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[genet-news] BUSINESS & PLANTS: Monsanto pays South African farmers over GE corn problems

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: Reuters, India

AUTHOR: Carey Gillam


DATE:   02.04.2009

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KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 2 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co, the world?s largest seed company and a purveyor of genetically altered crops, said on Thursday it recorded a $42 million pre-tax charge because of problems with corn grown in South Africa.

Monsanto made payments to South Afrucab growers after ?pollination and yield concerns? arose with three white corn hybrids grown solely in that country, said Monsanto vice president for investor relations Scarlett Foster.

?These three hybrids appeared to produce less than optimal amounts of pollen,? she said.

The hybrid issue was isolated on less than 4 percent of the roughly 6 million acres of corn planted there, Foster said.

The compensation to farmers amounted to about 5 cents a share after tax.

?Working with growers on production challenges is part and parcel of doing business,? Foster said.

Monsanto spokesman Lee Quarles said the problem arose during the 2007 seed production season when a breeding technique went awry.

?We reviewed the method and are making the necessary changes,? he said.

Monsanto said Thursday its net income fell to $1.09 billion, or $1.97 a share, in the second quarter ended on Feb. 28 from $1.13 billion, or $2.02 a share, a year earlier. (Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by David Gregorio)

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: Monsanto, USA

AUTHOR: For the Record


DATE:   02.04.2009

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In recent weeks, some South African maize farmers have reported variations in pollination in three white maize hybrids sold by Monsanto during the 2008/2009 growing season. The three hybrids contain either Roundup Ready or the stack of Roundup Ready and YieldGard. In some cases, the variable pollination causes a reduction in the number of kernels.

Monsanto announced several weeks ago it will fully compensate farmers who experienced the reduction in pollination and will do this before harvest. Teams of company representatives have either visited the farms or talked by phone with about 400 farmers who make up all of the growers who said they had a potential reduction in pollination. After detailed, in-field investigations involving Monsanto and the farmers, the teams concluded that roughly 75,000 hectares, which is about 25 percent of the total planted hectares, were affected in some way by this variation in pollination, according to Kobus Lindeque, the Monsanto team lead in Africa.

While there is variation in pollen production, the average pollination in the fields is about 90 percent. That means, on average, the yield reduction is about 10 percent, keeping in mind that portions of some fields were significantly more affected than that, he said.

Research teams confirmed that the biotechnology traits provided superior weed control and insect protection. They worked exactly as they should in all of the fields visited, according to Lindeque.

In order to maximize seed production yields during the 2007 seed production, the male and female inbreds of these three hybrids were reversed. This process of reversing the male and female is a common practice in hybrid production that existed before the advent of biotechnology. In this situation, the three hybrids produced using the same female inbred have experienced variable pollen production. Monsanto teams have reviewed the seed production method for the three hybrids and will make the necessary changes to ensure good pollinating hybrids in the future.

Pollination variation is not uncommon and can be influenced by several factors such as weather or agronomic practices. In some cases, such as this one, seed production methods can also contribute to lower pollination.

Lindeque said the maize hybrids with biotechnology traits are safe. The two traits contained in the three white maize hybrids have been thoroughly tested in South Africa for genetic quality and purity. He said the hybrids meet all of the company?s strict quality-control standards.

The safety of maize with one or both of these biotech traits has been independently reviewed and approved by regulatory authorities in Europe, Asia, North and South America. They agree that these products are safe and protective of the environment.

Maize with the YieldGard trait has been grown for a decade in South Africa. Maize with the Roundup Ready trait has been grown for the past four years in South Africa.

The next phase of the inquiry will involve meetings between Monsanto and every farmer impacted by the yield loss. Monsanto has committed to compensate farmers for any yield loss in these three hybrids. These meetings should take place over the next two months.



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