Monsanto Pushes for Bt Cotton in Kenya with Dismal Track Record Elsewhere

Kenya cotton crop

Monsanto’s Kenya Ltd., a subsidiary of the larger company, is trying to push another genetically modified Bt cotton strain into Africa. Representatives have submitted an application to release GM cotton seed known as MON 15985, or Bollgard II. [1]

The GM cotton was engineered to contain Bt pesticide (Bacillus thuringiensis) within the plant, purportedly to make the crop poisonous to butterflies and moths. Despite recent monarch butterfly deaths in the millions, these two species are the target of the GM seed. The company is insistent upon forcing Bt cotton into Kenya and other countries despite its dismal track record not just in Africa, but also on other continents.

After 5 seasons of genetically modified (GM) cotton cultivation in Burkina Faso, for example, farmers denounced their contracts with Monsanto, and cotton stakeholders requested compensation for losses incurred since 2008 due to low yields and low quality cotton fiber.

The Bt cotton has also been an utter failure in South Africa’s Makhathini Flats, as well as in Benin. Monsanto’s MON 15985 is likely going to fail in Kenya, too, since it does a poor job holding up to secondary pests aside from moths and butterflies.

Though Monsanto’s henchmen keep assuring farmers the Bt poison can face up to lepidopteran cotton pests, the poison itself is worse than any six or eight-legged insect meant to be torn from growing cotton.

Read: Activists in Kenya Protest Against GMO Food Introduction

Monsanto also tries to blame Kenya’s current wavering cotton supply on a ‘lack of certified seeds,’ but:

“. . . farmers are forced onto the commodity monoculture treadmill which Monsanto and the West want to escalate radically for Africa. Monoculture is an ecological dead zone which favors pests and disease. In that context these [Bt seeds] then have to be ‘fought’ with an ever-escalating poison treadmill.

So commodity monoculture is a triple win for the corporations, since the framework they enforce increases their power, generates a forced market for their poisons, generates an ever-escalating pest affliction which continually becomes resistant to the existing poisons, so that the farmers have to keep buying and using more and more poison, having no other choice.” [2]

Kenya will become the fourth country in Africa to approve GMO cultivation (South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Sudan) should the National Biosafety Authority approve Monsanto’s application. Though Monsanto, the Gates Foundation, and the US and UK governments had expected Kenya to become the centerpiece member several years ago.


[1] All Africa

[2] Attempter