Monsanto Evaluating Burkina Faso Operations After Cotton Move

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Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company, said it’s evaluating its operations in Burkina Faso after the West African country’s government moved to stop production of genetically modified cotton.

The St. Louis-based company is in talks with “stakeholders” in the country and so far has taken no decisions regarding its business there, it said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement.

Burkina Faso, Africa’s biggest cotton grower, said last month it will reduce acreage for modified cotton until it’s phased out in 2018 and replace it with a conventional variety of the crop. The government cited unsatisfactory fiber length in the modified crop grown in a pilot project carried out jointly with Monsanto.

The government is “neglecting the small-scale farmers in Burkina Faso by taking this very dramatic and severe type of decision,” Monsanto South Africa Managing Director Kobus Steenkamp told reporters Tuesday in Bothaville in South Africa’s Free State province.

Steenkamp said Monsanto still believes its technology will bring a benefit to farmers. The company said in the statement that the introduction in Burkina Faso of its Bollgard II cotton in 2009 in local varieties increased yields and export volumes while reducing pesticide use. Monsanto said it continues to talk with Association Interprofessionnelle Du Coton Du Burkina, an industry group, “in good faith to find a path towards mutual resolution for Bollgard II cotton in Burkina Faso.”

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