South African Farmers Continue to Increase GM Plantings

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Farmer Bethuel Gumede cites reduced pesticide use and increased income for school fees as greatest benefits to his family.

South African farmers grew more than 1.2 million acres (480,000 hectares) of biotech corn, soybeans and cotton in 2005. Plantings have significantly increased each year since commercial-scale introduction in 1997, enabling these farmers to increase their incomes by US$56 million and reduce pesticide applications by 330,000 pounds (150,000 kg).

“This new cotton is good for me as a farmer, because the strong chemicals I normally used when I was planting the old cotton, I’m not using now,” says Bethuel Gumede, a South African grower who has planted genetically modified (GM) cotton since 2001.

“I get enough yield with this type of new cotton – close to 30 to 40 bales on 3 hectares – that I’m able to pay school fees for my kids and to save some of the money so I can plant the next season,” continues Gumede in an exclusive video interview and podcast at Monsanto Company’s Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site:

Gumede, a father of seven, believes one of the greatest benefits of GM crops is increased income for his family and his children’s school fees. “To me it is very important to be able to afford school fees because I see education as much more important than anything. I will be glad if, in the future, my kids will be able to go to university. And, I’m looking to my land to pay for all of that.”

Conversations about Plant Biotechnology was initially launched in October 2005 and – within the next few weeks – will feature its first redesign. The site will incorporate a state-of-the-art online video player, cutting-edge video distribution system, and more flexible, simpler navigation. The changes will make it simpler and faster for visitors to view this short, online video of Gumede, as well as videos with more than 20 other farmers and families who grow GM crops and five experts who have researched and studied the technology.

Notes to Editors:

  • Pesticides registered by the U.S. EPA will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on man or the environment, when used in accordance with label directions.
  • 1 hectare = 2.5 acres


Ranjana Smetacek


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