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PLANTS: Burkina Faso delays production of genetically modifiedcotton

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Burkina Faso delays production of genetically modified cotton
SOURCE: Agence France Press, France
DATE:   24.05.2007

Burkina Faso delays production of genetically modified cotton

OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) - Burkina Faso has postponed until 2009 the start of
genetically modified cotton production, a controversial process that the
country's authorities say is necessary to compete.

"We cannot produce the cotton this year on a large-scale, but certainly
by 2009, after we have increased the number of transgenic seeds
sufficient in quality and quantity in 2007 and 2008," said Georges
Yameogo, an official with Sofitex, Burkina's textile and fibre company.

The country, which began testing genetically modified cotton in 2003
with the support of US firm Monsanto, was the first nation in Africa's
Sahelian region to do so, following the introduction of the cotton in
Egypt and South Africa.

Burkina is Africa's largest cotton producer, churning out some 700,000
tonnes in 2006, and the crops represent 60 percent of the country's
revenue, supporting some two million people.

Authorities in Burkina Faso have said cotton production must be
modernised in order to compete with industrialised countries that
provide subsidies to their farmers. The weak dollar has also been a
threat, they said, with Burkina Faso's CFA franc pegged to the euro.

The global market for transgenic seeds should reach 25 billion dollars
(19 billion euros) in 2025, the agriculture ministry said.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Sofitex chief Celestin Tiendrebeogo said cotton
prices for 2007 have been set lower than they were in 2006 in Burkina
Faso. He blamed worldwide price decreases, as well as the weak dollar
compared to the euro.

Tests in 2003 and 2005 resulted in 30 to 40 percent increases in yield
per hectare, as well as substantial savings on insecticides and
fertilizer, according to Sofitex.

Organisations opposed to genetically modified crops have warned that
transgenic cotton could result in serious damage to humans and the

"We still say that the principle of precaution has not been observed,"
said Jean Didier Zongo, head of a coalition against genetically modified

"We must not risk going there because we are not sure if there are
negative impacts."

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