January 16, 2016

Africa Vantage

Monsanto Kenya Ltd. is pushing Bollgard II Bt cotton for Kenya. This is the same technology which has a perfect record of failure everywhere on Earth. Let’s briefly survey Bt cotton’s record just in Africa. Complete failure in South Africa’s Makhathini Flats, failure and abandonment in Burkina Faso, failure and abandonment in Benin. Bt cotton is guaranteed to fail in Kenya as well. In 2013 Monsanto’s attempt to introduce Bt cotton in Malawi failed, in large part because of the opposition of GMO Free Malawi. The group critiqued the submission, noting especially how flimsy it was where it came to malign socioeconomic effects and how poorly Bt cotton would hold up against secondary pests.
Monsanto and its bootlicks are spewing the same well-worn lie: They claim that only poison can face up to lepidopteran cotton pests. In reality poison is the worst way to deal with pests, on cotton especially. Similarly, Monsanto blames Kenyan cotton’s current vulnerability on “lack of certified seeds.” In reality farmers naturally deal with pests according to rational, socioeconomically and ecologically sound agronomic practices geared to production for regional use and markets. Pests only become a problem when 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 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.
Kenya’s National Biosafety Authority is reviewing the GM cotton application. Kenya would become fourth country to approve GMO cultivation after South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Sudan. This is very important politically for the “New Alliance” cabal, since although ten African governments have signed up for the agribusiness recolonization plan Kenya is still dragging its feet. Monsanto, the Gates Foundation, and the US and UK governments had expected Kenya to become the centerpiece member several years ago. The cabal is now putting more intense pressure on the government.
Kenya also has an application outstanding for cultivation of a Bt maize variety. There have been several field tests of Bt maize in the country. But Bt maize also has a clear record of failure in Africa. The Kenyan media and establishment types talk of food shortages and the country’s having to import cotton from Tanzania. But this is all because of commodity monoculture production for export. What good has export-based commodity agriculture ever done for the farmers and public of any country? None, it’s only harmed them. What good has this ever done for the farmers and public of any African country? None, it’s only harmed them, for example causing the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s. What good could it possibly do for the farmers and public of any African country now? None, it can only harm them, and is harming them now. Land monopolization for export production is currently causing food shortages and hunger in Ethiopia, and it’s also the cause of food shortages in Kenya.
El Nino, rendered more chaotic and fierce by climate change, has rendered maize cultivation parlous in Zambia, and many farmers are diversifying with other crops and livestock. In Zambia much of this maize production is for local/regional food use, as it was in Mexico prior to NAFTA. The New Alliance, a far more malign force than El Nino, wants to destroy this regional food economy and force all this land into commodity monoculture production at the exact moment that climate chaos makes industrial agriculture even more vulnerable, as a study in Nature recently documented. Climate change, a crime of corporate industrialism, threatens to cause food shortages in Zambia. In an exercise of pure disaster capitalism, agribusiness bolstered by Gates and USAID will push agriculture based on commodity export as the answer. This is guaranteed to turn the food shortage these same Western corporations and governments caused in the first place into a full blown famine.
In Malawi commodity maize production is widespread, but there’s still extensive cultivation of maize for regional food use. Both agricultures are highly vulnerable to drought. In recent years climate change increasingly is causing drought here, culminating so far in this year’s El Nino. Academics and government officials are calling for more irrigation through the Greenbelt Irrigation and Water Development program. The government says this program has provided irrigation to hundreds of thousands of smallholder community farmers as well as industrial plantations. Malawi still maintains some of the old-style agricultural public investment programs which the IMF eradicated over much of Africa as part of “structural adjustment”. Malawi’s government seems to be still relatively serious about seeking national food security. The New Alliance plans to wipe all that out. For now the climate change drought has caused such regional food shortages that maize prices are soaring according to a worried Oxfam. They say Malawi is normally supplemented with maize imports from Zambia and South Africa, but maize production in those countries as well has been depressed by El Nino. They say Zimbabwe is closest to full-blown famine. Ethiopia also is suffering intensely from the climate chaos drought.
But El Nino is only the proximate cause of all this. Ethiopia and other countries are so vulnerable in the first place precisely because the land which should be producing food for the people on a diversified agroecological basis instead is being grabbed and monopolized for export commodity production. This is a total loss for the people and leaves them in a state of food insecurity even under the best weather conditions. Under conditions of climate chaos, food insecurity becomes extreme. This is the case over much of Africa, and this precarious state is rapidly spreading around the world, anywhere corporate agriculture’s grip continues to intensify. In Africa especially, corporate agriculture is the cause of it all. The New Alliance wants to greatly escalate it.
To finish with a brighter prospect, even as Zambia undergoes its second round of pondering Bt cotton, in Benin farmers have dumped Bt cotton and moved into organic production where they can be paid a premium for their harvest. “In Benin, farmers are now growing organic cotton and getting paid a premium. The buyers of the lint add value to the whole chain – spinning, weaving until the final garment. This is all done within the country, thus creating employment for the local people…At one time Zambia had ginneries, spinners, weavers and seed…The industry can be re-established with organic cotton. GMO cotton will provide high quality products.” In 2002 Zambia considered Bt cotton and rejected it. The country is currently experiencing the fruits of the corporate double assault of climate chaos and commodity monoculture. Adopting Bt cotton would only make this worse. The people of Zambia should reaffirm their earlier correct choice. Instead of going further down the destructive and self-destructive corporate path, they have a golden opportunity to fully embrace agroecology. All of African agriculture has this opportunity to reject the evils of corporate poison-based agriculture and instead undertake the natural and rational transition from their traditional agriculture to scientific agroecology. This is the path to food security, economic stability and prosperity, human and ecological health, and political freedom. The same is true throughout the world.


  1. […] to fall for the same scam Monsanto used on cotton farmers in India. (But Bt cotton has already been tried and rejected in three African countries, and the word is out.) But can the several African governments play the […]

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  2. […] food on a monoculture commodity export basis. For decades this has been proven to do nothing but increase hunger, famine, and disease. The Gates Foundation is an extreme activist on behalf of globalization export agriculture and seeks […]

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  3. […] truth of the corporate-driven food insecurity in Africa which GMOs promise to make much worse, see here. . *Canadian environmental groups Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society are suing the […]

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