A small but significant victory for the people of Burkina Faso has been struck today.
Earlier in the year, there were reports that the multinational giant Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, may suspend its operations in the country due to opposition from the Burkinabe government, and furthermore, that government may claim compensation for damages relating to the use of GM cotton. This is significant as Burkina Faso was the first country in Africa to sign an agreement with Monsanto to use GM cotton, becoming a sort of testing ground on the continent.
As the video below from InterParesCanada shows, the experiment did not turn out well for Burkinabe farmers. Estimates of their losses are $84 million.
In April 2016, the government announced it would withdraw the license to use GM cotton in the country starting from 2018. And now, the results are starting to come in from this year’s cotton harvest, the first for many years to be conducted without GM cotton. Initial signs seem to show that it has been an enormous success, with yields improved compared to last year. A step backwards for Monsanto and an economic model based on farmers’ dependency on GM seeds, and a giant leap forwards for traditional knowledge and small-scale farming.
Slow Food manages an extensive network of GM-free gardens in Burkina Faso and welcomes the country’s move towards better, cleaner, fairer farming.
Though this is good news from Burkina Faso, there are further warning signs from elsewhere on the continent that signal the battle is far from over. At the same time Burkina Faso is phasing out GMOs, Nigeria seems ready to welcome them.
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