New research establishes the amazing diversity of maize -- specifically the variety of proteins that the plant's genes can generate. The finding has great import for agriculture, as maize is one of the world's top-three staple foods, along with rice and wheat accounting for two-thirds of world food consumption.
China's plan to let the market set corn prices is bad news for international grain exporters, but should boost the country's struggling corn processors that use the grain in products ranging from food additives to paper and textiles.
Via Global Milling
South Africa, which is the continent’s biggest corn producer and is suffering the worst drought in memory, may need to help neighboring Zimbabwe with corn supplies as a drought cuts its harvest to the lowest since records started, a grain and oilseed farmers’ body said.
Zambian authorities have imposed an export ban on maize meal, leaving Zimbabwean millers struggling to get about 70 000 tons of already-paid-for maize meal from their northern neighbours, a report says.
China’s farm policy will be “modernised,” the government has said, with a movement towards more market-oriented policies in areas such as the maize sector. However, farm subsidies aimed at narrowing the growing income gap between urban and rural areas are likely to remain a central feature of the Asian country’s agricultural policy, sources said.
In China, genetically modified food is a hot-button issue, replete with bilateral trade spats and an official ban on the commercial production of GMO grains on home soil. Or at least, there is supposed to be such a ban. An eight-month probe last year by Greenpeace found what it calls large-scale production of GMO corn in the northeastern province of Liaoning, a major breadbasket region, the environmental watchdog said in a report Wednesday. Some 93% of random field samples and 20 of 21 samples from grain markets and supermarkets were found to contain GMO strains that are illegal in China, it said.
About 10,000 years ago, the teosinte plant underwent a mutation that would change the world. The tough greenish husks surrounding its golden grains disappeared, and the plant began its long evolution into what we now call corn.
In the case of maize, the GM crops planted and consumed in South Africa are known as Bt-crops, so named because they contain a protein (Bt) produced by a common soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis. The protein is the bacterium’s weapon against hungry bugs; when they digest it, they die.
A massive rise in corn imports last month is bringing back into the spotlight China’s hunger for the yellow grain and showcasing how Chinese policy-makers successfully overhauled the country’s food supply routes to lessen its dependence on the U.S.
Less than 10 percent of the corn grown in America is consumed directly. Yet it is in “almost every product in the supermarket today,” having been fed to animals or processed into sweeteners, according to a new book on the history of corn.
Kenya moved closer to commercial cultivation of genetically modified crops after the government approved open-air field trials of GM maize, making it the first East African country and the third in Africa to plant the genetically modified crop.
Currently, agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, contributing approximately 25 per cent of GDP, and employing 75 per cent of the national labour force. If it remains chronically inefficient, agriculture cannot modernize.
There are almost 275,000 acres of corn planted in South Carolina, with an economic impact of approximately $130 million. Though this is dwarfed by Midwest states such as Iowa (13.7 million acres, $8.75 billion), it's still a lot of corn - enough, at least, to make a person think S.C. would be a utopia for the insects that like to feast on tasty yellow kernels.
Between 70% and 80% of maize consumed in South Africa is genetically modified, and ours is the only country in the world whose staple is primarily GMO. So what? Three decades after its adoption, GM maize remains contentious. ANDREA TEAGLE takes a look at some of the risks and benefits of South Africa’s beloved mielie today.
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