South Africa issued permits to allow total imports of 1.3 million metric tons of genetically modified corn from the U.S. since allowing entry of the grain for the first time in December after the worst drought since records began in 1904.
There have been 15 permits issued for GM corn, or maize as it’s known locally, according to Makenosi Maroo, a spokeswoman for the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Wednesday in an e-mailed response to questions. She didn’t say whether the permits were for white or yellow corn.
South Africa became a net importer of corn for the first time since 2008 in the marketing season that ended in April, after the drought slashed local harvests. Approval was given for the entry both white and yellow GM corn from the U.S., the Pretoria-based South African Cereals and Oilseeds Trade Association said in December. While South Africa grows its own GM corn to date it hadn’t allowed modified grain from the U.S. to be imported as food.
Local corn farmers oppose the new imports because they are likely to push prices lower, Grain SA, the biggest local industry organization, said at the time.
South Africa has imported 641,235 tons of the country’s staple, white corn, in the season that began May 1, mostly from Mexico, according to data from the South African Grain Information Service. Yellow corn imports in the period have totaled 1.2 million tons, much of it from Argentina. In South Africa yellow corn is mainly fed to animals.