Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South Africa

Published by Adriana Stuijt – Digital Journal

South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside. Monsanto has offered compensation.
Monsanto blames the failure of the three varieties of corn planted on these farms, in three South African provinces,on alleged ‘underfertilisation processes in the laboratory”. Some 280 of the 1,000 farmers who planted the three varieties of Monsanto corn this year, have reported extensive seedless corn problems.

Urgent investigation demanded
However environmental activitist Marian Mayet, director of the Africa-centre for biosecurity in Johannesburg, demands an urgent government investigation and an immediate ban on all GM-foods, blaming the crop failure on Monsanto’s genetically-manipulated technology.

Willem Pelser, journalist of the Afrikaans Sunday paper Rapport, writes from Nelspruit that Monsanto has immediately offered the farmers compensation in three provinces – North West, Free State and Mpumalanga. The damage-estimates are being undertaken right now by the local farmers’ cooperative, Grain-SA. Monsanto claims that ‘less than 25%’ of three different corn varieties were ‘insufficiently fertilised in the laboratory’.

80% crop failure
However Mayet says Monsanto was grossly understating the problem.According to her own information, some farms have suffered up to 80% crop failures. The centre is strongly opposed to GM-food and biologically-manipulated technology in general.

“Monsanto says they just made a mistake in the laboratory, however we say that biotechnology is a failure.You cannot make a ‘mistake’ with three different varieties of corn.’

Demands urgent government investigation:
“We have been warning against GM-technology for years, we have been warning Monsanto that there will be problems,’ said Mayet. She calls for an urgent government investigation and an immediate ban on all GM-foods in South Africa.

Of the 1,000 South African farmers who planted Monsanto’s GM-maize this year, 280 suffered extensive crop failure, writes Rapport.

Monsanto’s local spokeswoman Magda du Toit said the ‘company is engaged in establishing the exact extent of the damage on the farms’. She did not want to speculate on the extent of the financial losses suffered right now.

Managing director of Monsanto in Africa, Kobus Lindeque, said however that ‘less than 25% of the Monsanto-seeded farms are involved in the loss’. He says there will be ‘a review of the seed-production methods of the three varieties involved in the failure, and we will made the necessary adjustments.’

He denied that the problem was caused in any way by ‘bio-technology’. Instead, there had been ‘insufficient fertilisation during the seed-production process’.

And Grain-SA’s Nico Hawkins says they ‘are still support GM-technology; ‘We will support any technology which will improve production.’ see

He also they were ‘satisfied with Monsanto’s handling of the case,’ and said Grain-SA was ‘closely involved in the claims-adjustment methodology’ between the farmers and Monsanto.

Farmers told Rapport that Monsanto was ‘bending over backwards to try and accommodate them in solving the problem.

“It’s a very good gesture to immediately offer to compensate the farmers for losses they suffered,’ said Kobus van Coller, one of the Free State farmers who discovered that his maize cobs were practically seedless this week.

“One can’t see from the outside whether a plant is unseeded. One must open up the cob leaves to establish the problem,’ he said. The seedless cobs show no sign of disease or any kind of fungus. They just have very few seeds, often none at all.

The South African supermarket-chain Woolworths already banned GM-foods from its shelves in 2000. However South African farmers have been producing GM-corn for years: they were among the first countries other than the United States to start using the Monsanto products.

The South African government does not require any labelling of GM-foods. Corn is the main staple food for South Africa’s 48-million people.

The three maize varieties which failed to produce seeds were designed with a built-in resistance to weed-killers, and manipulated to increase yields per hectare, Rapport writes.

Turin Shroud ‘could be genuine as carbon-dating was flawed’

New evidence suggests the Turin Shroud could have been the cloth in which Jesus was buried, as experiments that concluded it was a medieval fake were flawed.

By Stephen Adams – The Telegraph

Turin Shroud could be genuine, scientist has said Radio carbon dating carried out in 1988 was performed on an area of the relic that was repaired in the 16th century, according to Ray Rogers, who helped lead the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STRP). At the time he argued firmly that the shroud, which bears a Christ-like image, was a clever forgery.

But in a video made shortly before his death three years ago, he said facts had come to light that indicated the shroud could be genuine.
Rogers, a chemist from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said: “I don’t believe in miracles that defy the laws of nature. After the 1988 investigation I’d given up on the shroud. “But now I am coming to the conclusion that it has a very good chance of being the piece of cloth that was used to bury the historic Jesus.”

He came to his conclusion after re-examining a theory from two amateur scientists that he had earlier dismissed as being from “the lunatic fringe”.
Sue Benford and Joe Marina, from Ohio, suspected the 1988 sample was from a damaged section of the linen shroud repaired in the 16th century after being damaged in a fire.

Rogers said: “I was irritated and determined to prove Sue and Joe wrong.”
However, when he came to examine threads taken in 1978 – luckily from the same section as the 1988 sample – he found cotton in them.
He said: “The cotton fibres were fairly heavily coated with dye, suggesting they were changed to match the linen during a repair.

“I concluded that area of the shroud was manipulated by someone with great skill.
“Sue and Joe were right. The worst possible sample for carbon dating was taken.
“It consisted of different materials than were used in the shroud itself, so the age we produced was inaccurate.”
In the video, made shortly before he died of cancer in March 2005, he said: “I came very close to proving the shroud was used to bury the historic Jesus.”

This latest evidence, to be broadcast in The Turin Shroud: New Evidence at 8pm on Sunday on the Discovery Channel, is the latest chapter in the shroud’s history.

For the last 21 years most have considered it to be a medieval fake, after the 1988 tests dated it as being made between 1260 and 1390.
The result overturned 10 years of hope among Christians that it was real, after the first scientific tests found evidence of blood and serum stains.

The earliest documented sighting of the shroud is from 1353, but last week a historian claimed in the Vatican’s newspaper that she had found a “missing link” in the Holy See’s Secret Archives proving the Knights Templar had safeguarded it during the 13th century.