In the last few months, the debate on whether cotton farmers in Kenya should or should not adopt Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) has raved. Those who support the introduction of the GMO cotton are rooting for the Bt cotton as a cash crop farmed for its fiber and textile products only.
However, as it has already been observed in other countries with GMO cotton has been adopted. Just 40% of the produce find their way into the ginneries for textile production. The rest, secretly and illegally find their way into factories for making cottonseed oil, straw for animal feeds, and cottonseed cake.
Essentially, a big chunk of GMO cotton produced in countries that have adopted this farming technology ends up in the human food chain. The supporters of the GMO cotton further argue that the crop has been tested and confirmed safe for human consumption and the environment at large. A factually erroneous statement given the many inconclusive scientific reports on studies done on health implications of GMO crops.
Big Corporations pushing the GMO agenda down people’s throats for selfish gain
Experts have argued that GMO crops are nowhere near being safe for human consumption. And that those who stand to gain the most from its adoption is the big corporation that deals with the production of Bacillus Thuringensis (Bt).
However, some experts argue that Bt does not disintegrate well naturally and they have found its remains in water and the environment some 30 years after it was produced.
In Kenya, the GMO Cotton could revive the already dead Textile Industry
Before the 1980s, Kenya had a booming textile industry with hundreds of acres of land having cotton plantations and town forming around the ginneries. However, due to mismanagement, farmers became frustrated as the ginneries were not paying them enough (if at all) for their deliveries to the factories. The ginneries themselves were running on bad debts due to mismanagement. Leading to the textile industry’s death in Kenya.
Those advocating for the adoption of GMO Bt cotton argue that this technology might be what will resuscitate, no resurrect, the textile industry in Kenya. On the other hand, some stakeholders counter that argument by saying Kenya’s textile industry needs better management, not the adoption of a potentially harmful, genetically modified cash crop.
To say that Bt cotton will resurrect the dead textile industry would be akin to say that it was the conventional cotton seeds that had the problem. Yet in countries like Burkina Faso where they adopted the Bt cotton, the cost of the seeds were extremely high. Well beyond the reach of the small-scale farmers; who are the majority. As an example, the conventional seeds costs about $1.21, while the Bt cotton seeds go cost $45 for the same quantity. That is 37 times more expensive.
Upon a keener look, you will discover that the multinationals who have control of the Bt cotton get 63% out of the cost of the seed. Burkina Faso has since jumped ship and reverted to farming the conventional cotton seeds. It is further reported that farmers in that country were given $3 million as compensation for the poor quality experiences in the last two season planting with GMO seeds.