In Malawi a coalition of farmer, public health, religious, and citizen organizations is opposing the pending commercialization of Monsanto’s Bollgard II Bt cotton. The historical record on Bt cotton is conclusive – except where supported with massive, expensive artificial irrigation, synthetic fertilizer, and after the first few years increased pesticides, Bt cotton is economically unviable and destroys the farmers who try to grow it, driving them off their land, into shantytowns, or as in India to mass suicide. In Africa this record has been classically borne out in the experience of South Africa. Here Bt cotton was briefly toasted in the Western media, even as its record on the ground quickly proved a complete disaster. Within a few years the product almost ceased to be grown. South Africa provides perhaps the best example of Bt cotton as more of a media hoax than anything else. Only government bailouts and other subsidies have kept it in the field in the US, Australia, and India.
Meanwhile Africa, lacking these corporate welfare resources, has held aloof from Monsanto since the disastrous South African experience. But now, under the Western taxpayer-funded mechanisms of the neoliberal “New Alliance”, the corporate welfare juggernaut is coming to Africa, trying temporarily to force a huge “market” for GMOs into being. While Africa will be unable to sustain any such regime, for a brief period it can be plundered enough to prop up the profit and “growth” figures of Western corporations and economies, which is the one and only economic reason the West embarked upon the GMO project in the first place.