At the beginning of 2009, Monsanto learned that some of our farmer customers in South Africa were having issues with biotech maize they had purchased from us. What we found was that three of our white maize hybrids were experiencing a reduced pollination issue. In some cases, the variable pollination caused a reduction in the number of kernels. This issue directly impacted our customers and their ability to produce their crops.
A team of Monsanto employees traveled throughout South Africa’s corn planting areas to visit more than 400 farms, talk with farmers and determine the actual damage. Monsanto fully compensated farmers who experienced the reduction in pollination and did so before harvest. Monsanto determined that the variation in pollination resulted in an average yield reduction of around 25 percent in fields where the variable pollination occurred.
The average yield reduction was 25% in the fields affected by the pollination variation. It is not 25 % of the total corn planted of the three hybrids and certainly not 25 % of total corn plantings and most definitely not 80% as some blogs and sites are reporting.
Pollination variation is not uncommon. In this case, our seed was the primary influence, not – as has been reported – the presence of the biotech trait. In fact,our research teams confirmed that the biotechnology traits worked exactly as they should have.
In the end, all complaints were addressed and settled, and Monsanto received positive feedback on how this issue was handled (see below).
From the Digital Journal:
“And Grain-SA’s Nico Hawkins says they ‘are still support GM-technology; ‘We will support any technology which will improve production.’ 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. “