Might Monsanto play a role in California’s drought? If the company isn’t causing it directly, it at least plans to profit from it. To whit – the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), just lodged an appeal to South African Agriculture, Water Affairs, and Forestry Minister, Senzeni Zokwana, against the general release approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) maize, MON87460.
MON87460, a genetically modified corn meant to withstand drought conditions, has been deemed fit to plant by the Executive Council (EC). The approval by the EC means that Monsanto can sell the GM maize seed to farmers in South Africa for cultivation.
African law states that administrative decision-making must be based on rigorous food safety, environmental, and socio-economic assessments of the potential adverse effects of a GM or any crop, and should be taking into account international biosafety best practices. This is not what happened when MON87460 was given a green light. As usual, Monsanto provided its own, biased scientific evidence to the EC, and this is all that was used to give their GM maize approval.
The ‘drought-resistant’ corn will introduce unnatural and novel proteins into the environment. The ACB is extremely concerned about the absence of peer reviewed scientific data and evidence supporting the claims of Monsanto, that the corn will grow in water-limited and drought-prone Africa.
Specifically, there is a concern that the trials were conducted with conventionally-bred drought tolerant maize varieties into which the so-called transgenic drought-tolerant trait was introduced. If so, then the inherent drought-tolerant characteristics of the conventional maize (meaning corn that is already good at growing in drought-prone Africa without GM meddling) would confer an unfair, skewed, and ‘dishonest’ advantage to the GM variety.
There are multiple socio-economic risks as well, especially for small farmers. After all, they can’t stand to risk the chance that Monsanto’s ‘drought-resistant’ corn doesn’t work in Africa’s arid environment. They could literally lose the farm over taking that gamble.