Burkina Faso Ends Relationship With Monsanto After Cotton Crop Failure
In yet another instance of Western and corporate imperialism, on the continent of Africa, Burkina Faso stands as yet one more example of the failure of corporate crops and the willingness of the U.S. government to act as Monsanto’s enforcement arm against weak, victim nations.
Around 10 years ago, Burkina Faso introduced GM seeds produced by Monsanto known as Bolguard II which was designed to produce its own poison and cut down on the dreaded bolworm.
For 8 years, Burkina farmers had been dealing with a major problem in terms of pestilence. The bolworms that typically attack cotton crops had become resistant to the pesticides that would kill the worms.
Monsanto had an answer for the farmers, and it was more of the same on steroids.
Bolguard II GM cotton.
By 2015, three-quarters of all Burkina Faso’s cotton production was genetically modified. But the country whose cotton was coveted the world over for its quality and luxurious sheen, was quite different when the GM harvest appeared.
The new cotton was simply bad quality, and while the bugs weren’t eating it, foreign markets weren’t buying it either.
Burkina Faso realized soon after that Monsanto was going to ruin their niche market. But the country continued because Monsanto had offered and agreed to breed pest-resistant genes into Burkina Faso’s native plants.
At issue, was the necessity to have long fibers in their cotton plants in addition to Monsanto’s genes, but tests revealed that Monsanto simply wasn’t able or willing to do so. As a result, Burkina Faso’s government tried to introduce liability provisions to its deal with Monsanto.
But Monsanto wasn’t having it and the United States once again acted as the corporation’s strong arm in the Third World. According to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, U.S. ambassador Janine Jackson stepped in and instructed that the Burkina Faso government’s order be changed to meet the terms dictated by Monsanto.
“Upon hearing the news of a possible halt to the planned commercialization of the Bt cotton in Burkina Faso, Ambassador discussed the issues with both Prime Minister Tertius Zongo and Monsanto reps,” the cable said. “The PM then interceded and instructed that the administrative order be changed to meet Monsanto’s terms.”
Burkina Faso initially wanted to make Monsanto commit to compensation if there were any problems but the new order stated that any disputes would be handled through legal and regulatory channels and resolved in good faith.
In other words, Monsanto was off the hook in terms of legality and responsibility. The only people actually on the hook, were Burkina Faso farmers.
If those farmers had been able to talk to their peers in any other country in the world, where Monsanto’s forked tongue had promised deals and signed contracts, they might have been able to spare themselves such a hard lesson learned.
Unfortunately, their government is both weak and corrupt particularly when faced by one of the largest corporations in the world, backed up by the political and military power of the largest war machine on Earth.
In the previous five seasons, the cotton sector’s umbrella organization, the Interprofessional Cotton Association of Burkina, stated that its losses were around $85 million dollars over the previous five seasons.
Finally, in late 2016, the partnership between Monsanto and Burkina Faso was ended. Monsanto seeded $19 million dollars in royalties that Burkina Faso is withholding in exchange for the government’s agreement to drop its demands for compensation. Monsanto called the settlement a “goodwill gesture” on behalf of the company.
Burkina Faso is now slowly attempting to gain back its previous reputation for good cotton quality. See: African Country Ditches GE Cotton, Non-GMO Cotton Output Rises 20 Percent
But still, their government is not willing to fully walk away from GMOs. “We still favor the use of biotechnologies,” said Wilford Yameogo, Director of Sofitex, Burkina Faso’s biggest cotton company. “We’ve been armed and seasoned by the experience we had with Monsanto.”
This is not a statement of a man who has learned his lesson, but one who is about to learn it twice. If Burkina Faso wants to avoid a much bigger tragedy in the future, it would be wise to write off any partnership with Monsanto, GMOs and Big Ag and instead focus on producing traditional, organic and sustainable foods and crops.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies,Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria,and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 1,000 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.