SOUTH AFRICA – Argentina -based plant genetics company, GDM, is planning to  to launch 13 genetically modified (GM) soy plant varieties in South Africa, Agriculture News SA has reported.

Founded over 40 years ago, GDM is a global plant genetics company focused on developing, commercializing, and distributing agricultural products.

According to Thiago Schwonka, GDM’s  Africa, Asia, and Europe business leader, the company has applied for registration and expects that three of the 13 varieties be pre-launched this year, as the firm hopes to bolster its South African business and prepare incursions throughout the region.

“Our target is that by 2027 more than 50% of the area planted with soybeans in South Africa contains our genetics,” said  Schwonka.

Tackling food insecurity

According to GDM, their strategy to penetrate the African government follows the recent push by the states to tackle food insecurity through the incorporation of bioengineering of crops.

South Africa leads the region having greenlighted the cultivation and commercialization of a new genetically modified (GM) technology for soybean under the GMO Act in 2021.

Other African governments are warming up to the technology to boost local production, an inch closer to food security.

Schwonka said that while South Africa is the only African nation that recognizes the intellectual property of autogamous, or self-fertilizing plants, other countries are keen to modernize their patent laws and join the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

He added that the 13 materials GDM plans to register in South Africa feature Bayer’s INTACTA RR2 PRO GMO seed technology, designed to help soy plants resist caterpillars and the glyphosate weed killer.

Joao Schechtel, GDM’s product placement supervisor, noted much of South Africa’s soy is used as cattle feed during the dry months of winter and opportunity existed to expand the crop as it was much cheaper to grow compared to corn.

GDM also plans to launch non-GMO wheat seeds in South Africa shortly. By 2027, it wants to achieve a 20% share of the wheat seed market there, the executives said

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