For the first time, genetically-modified grain has been grown commercially in South Africa and will be sold in the market mixed with other grains, a leading seed-seller said. "Up to 50,000 hectares of genetically-modified maize has been planted this season and will be sold in the commercial market,' he said. Two strains of yellow maize, both resistant to stalk borer, a pest that attacks maize, were being commercially cultivated. "Farmers are accepting this seed because it is giving them good results and good yields,' he said. South Africa has not experienced the same backlash against genetically modifying crops that has swept across Europe and is souring relations between the European Union and the United States.

"If Africa stays out of the trend of genetically modified crops then it is going to lose out on the advantages and advances in genetically modified organisms,' said Walter Loubser, deputy director of plant genetics resources at South Africa's department of agriculture.

Although the grain is treated as a controlled product, it may be imported into the country under strict controls, said Eben Rademeyer, director of plant and quality control at the department. "Our legislation says that if something has been genetically modified then it is a controlled product and you will have to get a permit from the department to import it,' he said.