New book documents the country’s unsuccessful experience with Bt cotton cultivation and calls for move away from GM and towards agroecology
GM crops have been touted as a solution to improve agricultural productivity and lift the lot of farmers in developing countries. However, the reality on the ground is that the performance and impacts of GM crops have been extremely uneven.
This is starkly illustrated by the experience of Burkina Faso in planting Bt cotton, a variety genetically engineered to be resistant to insect pests. Bt cotton was introduced commercially in the West African country in 2008, only to be phased out just seven years later after showing a marked decline in fibre quality compared with conventional Burkinabé cotton.
Drawing upon research carried out in one of the largest cotton-growing areas in Burkina Faso, a new book written by Juan López Villar and published by Third World Network documents the country’s shortlived, less-than-successful experience with Bt cotton cultivation, and explores the possible reasons behind the debacle, including commercial interest in pushing the corporate-owned Bt technology.
The book also looks at similar problems faced by other countries growing Bt cotton, before concluding with a call to move away from promoting GM crops towards supporting indigenous varieties and agroecological practices.