The Commercial Application of GMO Crops in Africa: Burkina Faso’s Decade of Experience with Bt Cotton

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Abstract or Summary

Burkina Faso has emerged as one of the more progressive and proactive sub-Saharan African countries regarding biotechnology. In 2009, slightly more than 125,000 ha of second-generation insect-protected biotech cotton (Bollgard II from Monsanto Co.), in local varieties, were planted by Burkina Faso producers; this was the largest introduction of biotechnology on the African continent. The commercial release was made possible through a joint collaboration between Burkina Faso’s national cotton companies and Monsanto that began in May 2000. This article presents empirical evidence of how Bt cotton impacted rural households in Burkina Faso following its 2009 commercial release. Based on surveys of 160 cotton producers, Bt cotton significantly increased cotton yields by an average of 18.2% over conventional cotton. There was no significant difference in production costs since the increased cost of Bt cotton seed was offset by the reduction in insecticide costs, and labor savings from growing Bt cotton were offset by slightly higher harvest costs. Hence, producers were able to capture virtually all of the benefits from higher cotton yields. Bt cotton producers earned a profit of $39.00 per ha, a $61.88 per ha increase in cotton income over conventional cotton, and also shifted producers’ bottom line from a negative position to a positive one.

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