By admin       2017-03-09

BOBO-DIOULASSO, Burkina Faso • Burkina Faso's cotton companies and growers have settled a dispute with Monsanto Co. over what they claimed were revenue losses caused by the introduction of genetically modified cotton. The agreement, which includes the dividing up of royalties withheld by Monsanto's Burkina Faso partners, brings to an end a collaboration that had at one time promised to offer the company a foothold in Africa. Burkina Faso is Africa's top cotton producer but among the world's poorest countries. It began the nationwide introduction of cotton containing Monsanto's Bollgard II trait in 2008 to fight against pests. But cotton companies and the national farmers union blamed Monsanto for a decline in quality that lowered the cotton crop's value on the global market. They demanded $76.5 million in compensation from Monsanto and withheld nearly $24 million in royalties. As part of the agreement reached with Monsanto, the company agreed to accept only 25 percent of royalties, Wilfried Yameogo, managing director of SOFITEX, Burkina Faso's main cotton company, told Reuters on Tuesday. Monsanto would not confirm the settlement amount and said the agreement terms were confidential. The Creve Coeur-based seed giant has previously acknowledged changes in cotton fiber length, but said a fiber quality is influenced by both environmental conditions and genetic background. Burkina Faso did not renew its contract with Monsanto last year and this season returned to its conventional cotton strain. Monsanto has since exited its cotton business in Burkina Faso, citing difficulties securing a "reasonable return" on its investment, spokeswoman Christi Dixon said. Agriculture Minister Jacob Ouedraogo told Reuters this week that the country was expected to produce around 660,000 tons of cotton in the 2016-2017 season, roughly on a par with the previous harvest. Yameogo said quality controls indicated that the reintroduction conventional cotton had eliminated the quality issues.

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