DuPont to Spread GM Corn Further in Africa

After a three-year long battle, chemicals and seed giant DuPont (NYSE: DD  ) won control of South Africa's largest seed company, and can now more effectively challenge Monsanto's (NYSE: MON  ) dominance of the dark continent.

DuPont's Pioneer Hi-Bred division acquired an 80% stake in South Africa's Pannar, which has a large store of maize germplasm, one of the most important crops on the continent. By acquiring the seed company, DuPont now has access to one of the largest collections of genetic resources for the crop, which gives it a powerful wedge to pry loose more of its rival's market share. Monsanto, having bought two South African seed companies years ago, Sensako and Carnia, estimates it owns half of the South African maize market.

Genetically modified maize already accounts for 75% of the crop grown there, with hybrid corn seed sales totaling about $350 million annually. Pannar is steeped in selling GM seeds licensed from Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta, and the acquisition was opposed by many on the grounds that it would consolidate control of a domestic food staple into the hands of just two foreign multinational corporations. That's not unlike the uproar over U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods selling itself to a Chinese company.

Unlike the Smithfield saga, however, pork's prominence in U.S. diets is nowhere near as universal as maize is in Africa. Mealie meal, a course flour made from maize, is a food staple in South Africa,  Zambia, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere.

Moreover, because Pannar controls important stores of organic and hybrid traits that have been grown and developed in Africa over long periods of time, opponents worry that seed diversity will be threatened when two companies that have an interest in spreading GM seed control what seed is available on the market. 

Yet, DuPont points to the low yields farmers in Africa have achieved thus far, where 86 million acres are available for corn production, but average yields fall short from what's achieved elsewhere. Where African farmers can achieve yields averaging two tons per hectare, Brazil gets nearly seven tons, and the U.S., where 86% of the corn crop is genetically modified, boasts nearly 10 tons.

Of course, since GM maize seed has such a preponderance of the market, it's easy to question whether even more such seed will be beneficial.

It's not just South Africa where DuPont is seeking to exert its influence, because that market already enjoys an advanced network of farms; rather, it's in the developing nations such as Mozambique and Tanzania where farmers are only just starting to develop commercial agriculture that DuPont will use Pannar's reach to leapfrog over Monsanto. It will use not just maize to do so, but also sunflower, sorghum, wheat, and soybeans.

Over the past two decades, Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow Chemical, and DuPont -- call them the five fingers of death to non-genetically modified seed -- have together purchased more than 200 seed companies, and now completely dominate the seed market.

Terms for the latest deal were not disclosed, but DuPont says it's one of the biggest such deals its Pioneer unit has ever made, and is the largest for the company in Africa. The lights for non-genetically modified seed, however, just dimmed darker on the dark continent.

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  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2013, at 10:26 PM, VitamanD wrote:

    "The dark continent"- Really? Is this the 19th century or something? You should know better...

  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2013, at 12:41 AM, Dadw5boys wrote:

    One reason the farmers in Africa have low yeild crops is because every time the plant huge crops their markets are dersotryed by the dumping of U.S. Grain by Non Profits in the form of U.S. Aid !

    Why these 100's of tons of grain show up just before the African Farmers harvest their crops is beyond me. The U.S. Government supports the price of grain here with the farm bill buys up excess grain and gives it to Non Profits to ship overseas in the form of food aid. The Non Profits get Millions from U.S. Grants to pay for the Shipping and Handeling but the Farmers in Eygpt, Africa, India and other countries suffer when the price of grain drops out the bottom.

    How would you feel if you struggled to bring your crop of wheat to market and there sets bag after bag of U.S. Wheat and NO ONE WANTS TO BUY YOUR GRAIN.

  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2013, at 6:19 AM, VitamanD wrote:

    @Dad there are major efforts to change that system underway, as you may know. Local purchase is increasing, and the administration has proposed changes that could turn things on their head in a good way. Do some searching, you will be surprised.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2013/0606/Flexib...

  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2013, at 7:51 AM, funfundvierzig wrote:

    Now all of Africa becomes part of the sprawling global plantation of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. But wait. This is the same DuPont Management who unhesitatingly embrace a business model of FOOD-to-FUEL & FABRICS. With its partner oil giant BP, DuPont is gobbling up 1.1 million tonnes of wheat yearly to manufacture into bad-mileage ethanol at its huge biofuel factory in Hull England. DuPont's flawed, if not amoral business model reduces food supplies and pressures the price of food upward...what a great benefit for millions of hungry women, men, and children in Africa and beyond, the same people for whom DuPont executives and their PR con artists are now counterfeiting compassion!

    ...funfun..

  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2013, at 1:09 PM, funfundvierzig wrote:

    DuPont may be "spreading GM corn further in Africa", but at what cost to African farmers, many of them poor and struggling?

    Our speculation: The obese overhead of DuPont will call for price hikes on seeds very shortly. Back in the States, to feed and house Ms. Ellen Kullman, DuPont Chieftess and her circa 100 DuPont Presidents, Vice Presidents, and the likes along with their army of understaffers requires a huge, ever increasing cash flow. Ms. Kullman herself hauls in $300,000.00 a week, $15 million a year in pay. ...funfun..

  • Report this Comment On August 09, 2013, at 9:45 AM, Biloxi8 wrote:

    You can pump and dump all the poison into the arse of the world. The poor Africans will eat anything even if there is a skull and bone mark on it. The perfect playground for these GMO Charlatans to poison the environment without any impunity.

  • Report this Comment On August 09, 2013, at 9:58 AM, Biloxi8 wrote:

    If you do a bit of research into Industrial Agriculture you will find that these monocultures are 26 times less efficient than agriculture was 50 years ago.

    It takes 16 times more energy to produce 1 Cal of food.

    Industrial Agruculture, in fact, is so inefficient that using a stick or tree branch to plough might give Africans a great advantage!

  • Report this Comment On September 06, 2013, at 6:17 AM, eulu wrote:

    We request you take request a few minutes of your time and act as the worldwide Petition:

    We networked opponent of monsanto in this group started 04.09.2013, please come in:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/monsantogohome/

    https://www.facebook.com/gohomemonsanto (Please like this)

    Petition MONSANTO GO HOME

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Monsanto_go_home/

    Please, will sign this worldwide petition and help us this to spread the world globally. Only together we reach something. Do we want this in Europe and around the world?

    Thank you

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