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January 26, 2009

Monsanto releases gene-modified cotton in Burkina Faso

by Rene Pastor

Life sciences firm Monsanto said in early January it released for commercial cultivation its Bollgard II cotton seed in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world.

A report presented by Monsanto scientist John Greenplate at the annual Beltwide cotton conference said the country's government approved the seed last June, and the commercial release was accomplished by November of last year on 9,000 hectares of farmland. He said growers, as per the usual practice in the country, were expected to pay for the seed upon harvest. Bollgard II contains proteins which would help fight the top insect there -- the caterpillar pest.

The former French colony of 15 million people relies heavily on subsistence agriculture. The main agricultural activity is cotton farming, which is sown on 600,000 hectares.Cotton cultivation is dominated by three coops in the country. The runaway leader is Sofitex, which accounts for 87 percent of the acreage.


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