Reply on Monsanto seed varieties

In response to recent claims in a section of the press dated 18th July 2008 about Monsanto's hybrid maize varieties in the Kenyan market, Monsanto Kenya Ltd would like to state the following facts.

Who we are
Monsanto is a company that is committed to agriculture. Using the tools of modern biology, we support the farmers that feed our growing world with vegetable, maize, cotton, soy bean, sunflower and canola seeds, and also with weed control products.

Our high investment in research and development ensures that we offer farmers quality products that enable them to be productive and efficient - while minimizing impact on the environment. When farmers succeed, we succeed.

A Transparent Seed Business
In Kenya, we supply farmers with vegetable and maize seeds, and with Roundup, a popular weed control product that has been used by Kenyan coffee, tea, sugarcane and maize farmers for over 30 years.

Our seed varieties are available to farmers across the country via a network of distributers who freely sell to all farmers without condition. Thousands of farmers choose to use our seeds because they benefit from high yields and have quality produce for their food or to sell for income.

Conventional Hybrids not GM Maize
Monsanto hybrid maize varieties sold in Kenya are derived from conventional breeding and are not GM. The seeds are produced in Kenya and Uganda under stringent monitoring and inspection by government regulatory authorities throughout their production period. After production, our seeds undergo National Performance Testing prior to being approved for sale by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Serving our Farmers
Farmers are customers who have choice. They have free access to a wide variety of seeds from the many seed companies in Kenya. There is no monitoring, neither are contracts signed by any of our farmers. Like other agricultural input companies, Monsanto conducts numerous field demonstrations, attends agricultural shows, and calls many farmer meetings to showcase our products.

All farmers are free to save seed for their reuse, but most of them choose not to do so, because they get lower yields from saved seeds. 65 percent of Kenyan maize farmers use hybrid seed and choose to buy fresh seed every season.

Safety of Monsanto crops
The food and feed safety of Monsanto crops is established on the foundation of sound science, stringent regulation, expert endorsements from credible scientific institutions and a history of safe use worldwide. In particular, our genetically improved crops undergo very rigorous safety assessments both internally by our scientists, and externally by national and international regulatory authorities.

Biotech maize varieties that incorporate our Bt trait MON810, developed to be resistant to the stalkborer pest, have been evaluated and found to be safe by credible institutions like the European Food Safety Authority, the U.S Food and Drug Administration, the British and French Medical Associations, the OECD and the WHO - amongst others.

GM crops around the World
Since 1996, over 1.7 billion cumulative acres of biotech crops have been grown in 23 countries around the world, eight of which are in Europe.

29 countries import biotech crops for their food and feed industries, and over 12 million farmers, most of whom are smallholder farmers, enjoy the benefits of higher yields, lower costs and reduced impact on the environment by growing biotech crops. Over the last 12 years, billions of meals made from biotech crops have been eaten with no ill effect.

In Africa, South African farmers have grown biotech maize, cotton and soya extensively for a number of years. Western and Northern African countries, Burkina Faso and Egypt, have also began growing biotech crops this year after government departments culminated many years of research and determined the crops to be safe, productive and not harmful to the environment. In Kenya, biotech cotton, maize and cassava are being tested by government agencies.

Technology key to Food Security
Though agricultural biotechnology is widely used, it nevertheless has critics. While respecting their right to.a contrary view, we are however concerned that many use mistruths and alarmist propaganda to promote their point of view. Their assertions are not based on science or facts, but are rather designed to create fear and mistrust. This is unfortunate, as it may deny farmers access to improved seeds that would boost their yields and income, and help promote food security - especially in these times of rising food prices and climate change.

Monsanto believes that all countries need to establish the policies and laws to regulate the development and use of biotech crops. Farmers will then have the choice to either use their saved seeds, hybrid seeds or genetically improved seeds.

Our Values - the Monsanto Pledge
The Monsanto Pledge is our public commitment to our customers, other key stakeholders and the public to behave ethically and responsibly. The core elements of the Pledge include the principles of dialogue, transparency, respect, sharing and delivering benefits. We strive to live by these principles.

For more information please visit

Bookmark the permalink.