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> Honestly genetically modified cotton it's not good today.
It's not good tomorrow.>> It's a case that highlights a little known challenge for genetic engineering. How to fit big technology to the needs of local farmers. Cotton is Burkina Faso's second biggest export, involving a fifth of the total workforce. So in 2000, after seeing their crops ravaged by the bollworm, they were desperate.
A solution came from Monsanto. A pest resistant cotton strain, which had been introduced in the US. And was being marketed worldwide. For Monsanto, it was a chance to showcase their technology in West Africa. The seeds were introduced in 2008. The resulting cotton was pest free and more abundant.
But, there was a problem. Burkina Faso is a small player on the global cotton stage. But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. And that's determined by the length of fibers. By the 2014 to 2015 season, the GM cotton fibers were an average 2.9 milimeters shorter.
And that meant the Burkina cotton lost it's premium pricing. In December 2016, the Burkina Monsanto partnership ended with a settlement. When Monsanto wrote off $19 million, it was owed in exchange for Burkinabe farmers dropping demands for compensation. Monsanto, who's $13 and half billion revenues in 2016, were more than Burkina Faso's GDP.
Told Rueters it's genetic traits had transformed the country's cotton sector. Improving the lives of 350,000 farmers and some four million local people. But for now, the cotton sector has gone back to the old ways. In it's first season without GMC, almost 99% of it's production was graded as the high quality, medium or long staple.
And so far, the bull worm has not returned.