Tag Archives: Bollgard II

Burkino Faso was not silenced by Monsanto

14 Apr

Devinder Sharma (New Delhi) draws our attention to Burkina Faso, Africa’s top cotton producer but among the world’s poorest countries. In 2008, in order to reduce losses due to pests, it introduced a variety of cotton containing Monsanto’s Bollgard II trait nationwide.  

Sharma adds: “It was then hailed as a technological development which would change the face of the rural landscape”.

Over the years, however, a decline in value was blamed on the genetically modified (GM) cotton. Reuters reported that the Inter-professional Cotton Association of Burkina said that quality was damaged when Monsanto introduced the gene into its cotton. The fibre length, one of the chief measures of quality, was reduced, causing Burkina Faso’s cotton to fetch lower prices on the world market.

Burkina Faso did not renew its contract with Monsanto last year and this season it abandoned the use of the GM variety in favour of a return to its conventional cotton strain.

Sharma comments that instead of allowing its arm to be twisted, Burkina Faso took on the mighty multinational giant. It demanded compensation of US$76.5 million from Monsanto for the losses suffered. As a preventive measure, Burkina Faso withheld US$24 million in royalties collected from Burkina Faso farmers.

Reuters adds that Wilfried Yameogo, managing director of SOFITEX, said: “This brings definitive closure to a collaboration that had promised to offer the company a foothold in Africa but ended in dispute. In doing this, we think that a bad deal is better than a bad court case. We have closed the Monsanto dossier. There is no longer a demand for compensation”.

The Agriculture Minister Jacob Quedraogo (sometimes spelt as Ouedraogo), said that the country will now resort to cultivation of conventional cotton varieties, and he hopes the reintroduction of traditional cotton will eliminate the quality issues.

Sharma ends: Let’s learn something from Burkina Faso

 

 

 

“Data clearly shows that GMOs do not increase yields and do not decrease the use of agrichemicals”

10 Oct

navdanya 

Vandana Shiva draws our attention to her article in the Deccan Chronicle. On one side of the debate over genetically modified organisms is scientific evidence that GMOs are not delivering on their promise, and on the other side is ideological propaganda by the genetically modified seed industry and scientists whose careers are locked into the GMO trajectory.

Extracts

After two decades of commercial applications, data clearly shows that GMOs do not increase yields and do not decrease the use of agrichemicals, but have instead created super-pests and super-weeds.

vandana shivaIt is because of these failures and the fact that GMOs are linked to patents, which translates into royalty extraction and high prices, that GMOs worsen the economic status of farmers. India has witnessed more than 2,84,694 far­mer suicides in a span of 17 years, between 1995 and 2012. The worst off is Maharashtra, which has the maximum area under cultivation of genetically modified Bt cotton . . .

Farmers chose Bt cotton not because it was the best alternative but because all other alternatives were destroyed. The seed varieties were replaced. India’s Central Ins­titute for Cotton Res­earch has not released any public varieties after Monsanto entered the market, and most Indian seed companies are locked into licensing arrangements with Monsanto.

Nor is it true that yields have incre­ased. Yields of cotton in the pre-GMO period reached 1,200 kg in good years. After Bt cotton was introduced the yield has stagnated at 500 kg.

As the University of Ca­n­terbury research team led by Prof. Jack He­i­nemann has shown, North American crop production has fallen behind that of Western Europe, despite farmers in the United States using genetically modified seeds and more pesticide. According to the team, the main point of difference between the regions is the adoption of GM seeds in North America and the use of non-GM seed in Europe. The failure to control pests has led to an increase in pesticide use.

A study published in India’s Review of Agrarian Studies also showed a higher expenditure on chemical pesticides for Bt cotton than for other varieties by small farmers. Non-target pest populations in Bt cotton fields have exploded; it is expected that this will likely counteract any decrease in pesticide use.

In China, where Bt cotton is widely planted, populations of mirid bugs — pests that previously posed only a minor problem — have increased 12-fold since 1997.

A 2008 study in the International Journal of Biotechnology (see abstract) found that any financial benefits of planting Bt cotton had been eroded by the increasing use of pesticides needed to combat non-target pests.

In the US, due mainly to the widespread use of Roundup Ready seeds, the use of 4 herbicide (a group of herbicides) increased 15% from 1994 to 2005 — an average increase of one-fourth pound per each acre planted with GM seed — according to a 2009 report published by the Organic Centre. Moreover, the rise of gly­phosate (the herbici­de in Roundup) resistant weeds has made it necessary to combat these weeds by employing other, often more toxic, herbicides . . . This trend is confirmed by 2010 USDA pesticide data, which shows skyrocketing gly­phosate use accompanied by constant or increasing rates of use for other, more toxic, herbicides . . .

. . . Bt cotton has not given higher yields. It is not disease resistant. Disea­ses that never affected cotton, like aphids and jassids, have exploded. In India the bollworm, which Bt cotton was supposed to control, has become resistant and Monsanto has had to introduce Bollgard II, a higher variety of insect-resistant genetically modified cotton. All this has created debt not profits for farmers. If seed costs jump 8,000 per cent and pesticide use increases 1,300 per cent, farmers’ incomes do not increase.

Good science looks at evidence and takes feedback from the real word. Bad science that shuts its mind to evidence and be­comes propaganda. Sa­­dly, in the GMO deb­a­te, those defending GMOs have only power and propaganda on their side.

The writer is the executive director of the Navdanya (nine seeds)Trust

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 A direct link to 2010 USDA pesticide data was not found but there was a similar passage in the 2010 Californian report below (AI, active ingredient?). pesticide use california 2010