Farmers in Burkina Faso Desire Access to GM Cotton

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Online videos capture West African farmer’s comments on the need for improved insect control and increased yields.

A year cotton doesn’t do well, there is famine, because the profits come from there.

Approximately 90 percent of the population of Burkina Faso in West Africa – one of the poorest countries in the world – engages in subsistence agriculture. Recent droughts, a high population density and limited natural resources in Western Africa continue to negatively affect agriculture in the area.

For the first time on the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site at http://www.monsanto.com/biotech-gmo/, visitors will be able to hear three Burkinabe farmers talk about the need for and potential benefits of biotechnology cotton in their farming operations.

“Cotton growing is a very demanding activity,” says Tahirou Fofana, a husband and father of six children who – in addition to growing cereals for food – grows cotton to purchase food and pay for his children’s education. “A year cotton doesn’t do well, there is famine, because the profits come from there.”

“Usually, we have pests attack as the cotton is at the flowering stage, and also later on. They make holes in the bolls and cause them to fall,” comments Arzouma Soulama, a husband and father of 18 children who farms about 75 acres (30 hectares) in a neighbouring village. “On one hectare, I apply pesticide six times. … The treatment is one of the biggest difficulties. … If we no longer have to spray the cotton, it is a good thing for us.”

West Africa farmers in Burkina Faso are hopeful that they will soon be able to farm biotechnology cotton. Insect-protected cotton contains a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that protects cotton plants from specific lepidopteron insect pests. Bt cotton is effective in controlling the bollworms that are destroying the cotton crops in Burkina Faso and negatively impacting the harvest of these farmers.

“So far, we do not have access to this new method. If we get it, it will be good,” says Ouoba Issiaka , a husband and father of seven children who farms 30 acres (12 hectares) of millet, maize and cotton. “This is my dearest hope, because pesticides alone eat up a large portion of our profits. … Since there is no need for pesticide with transgenic cotton, it is something positive for our health and the environment as well.”

One of the two new videos on the Conversations Web site features the perspective of Issiaka alone. The second video is a compilation featuring Issiaka, Fofana and Soulama. In addition to these videos segments with farmers from Burkina Faso, visitors to the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site can watch farmers from 11 other countries discuss their experiences with biotech crops.

Conversations about Plant Biotechnology is designed to give a voice and a face to the farmers and families who grow biotech crops and the experts who research and study the technology. The Web site contains more than 50, two- to three-minute, extremely candid, straightforward and compelling video segments with the people who know the technology best. The Web site is hosted by Monsanto Company — a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

Editor’s Notes:

  •     Bt cotton contains a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that protects cotton plants from specific lepidopteron insect pests.
  •     Pesticides registered by the U.S. EPA will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on man or the environment, when used in accordance with label directions.

Contact:

Ranjana Smetacek

314-694-2642

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Ranjana Smetacek

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