A Central Coast New Tech High School student group in its June 16 letter has concluded that genetically modified crops, “used to make crops more weather resistant,” can help alleviate poverty in Zambia.
This is presumably a reference to Monsanto’s new “drought-tolerant” corn, the only GMO engineered for this trait. As Mother Jones reported in January, the USDA found that “the product’s ‘drought tolerance’ extends only to ‘moderate’ drought conditions, and it has the same ‘minimum water requirements’ as conventional corn.”
Further: “Conventional breeders have already developed varieties that do just as well under moderate-drought conditions as Monsanto’s genetically altered product ... Monsanto’s novel product offers precisely nothing to farmers that isn’t already available to them and without the need to pay a hefty GMO licensing fee.”
Plant pathologist Doug Gurian-Sherman says improved methods of irrigation and mulching are superior to “drought-tolerant” GMOs.
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For a sustainable alternative to their proposal, I commend to the attention of the students of Central Coast New Tech High School the report “Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa” by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development.