Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

by Andrew Malone

Global Research, November 6, 2008

Daily Mail - 2008-11-03

When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it's even WORSE than he feared.

The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father's body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.

As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India's economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.

Human tragedy: A farmer and child in India's 'suicide belt'

Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide.

Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years' earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out.

There were still marks in the dust where he had writhed in agony. Other villagers looked on - they knew from experience that any intervention was pointless - as he lay doubled up on the ground, crying out in pain and vomiting.

Moaning, he crawled on to a bench outside his simple home 100 miles from Nagpur in central India. An hour later, he stopped making any noise. Then he stopped breathing. At 5pm on Sunday, the life of Shankara Mandaukar came to an end.

As neighbours gathered to pray outside the family home, Nirmala Mandaukar, 50, told how she rushed back from the fields to find her husband dead. 'He was a loving and caring man,' she said, weeping quietly.

'But he couldn't take any more. The mental anguish was too much. We have lost everything.'

Shankara's crop had failed - twice. Of course, famine and pestilence are part of India's ancient story.

But the death of this respected farmer has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops.

Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.

Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts - and no income.

So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.

The crisis, branded the 'GM Genocide' by campaigners, was highlighted recently when Prince Charles claimed that the issue of GM had become a 'global moral question' - and the time had come to end its unstoppable march.

Speaking by video link to a conference in the Indian capital, Delhi, he infuriated bio-tech leaders and some politicians by condemning 'the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming... from the failure of many GM crop varieties'.

Ranged against the Prince are powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians, who claim that genetically modified crops have transformed Indian agriculture, providing greater yields than ever before.

The rest of the world, they insist, should embrace 'the future' and follow suit.

So who is telling the truth? To find out, I travelled to the 'suicide belt' in Maharashtra state.

What I found was deeply disturbing - and has profound implications for countries, including Britain, debating whether to allow the planting of seeds manipulated by scientists to circumvent the laws of nature.

For official figures from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture do indeed confirm that in a huge humanitarian crisis, more than 1,000 farmers kill themselves here each month.

Simple, rural people, they are dying slow, agonising deaths. Most swallow insecticide - a pricey substance they were promised they would not need when they were coerced into growing expensive GM crops.

It seems that many are massively in debt to local money-lenders, having over-borrowed to purchase GM seed.

Pro-GM experts claim that it is rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and 'agrarian distress' that is the real reason for the horrific toll.

But, as I discovered during a four-day journey through the epicentre of the disaster, that is not the full story.

Death seeds: A Greenpeace protester sprays milk-based paint on a Monsanto research soybean field near Atlantic, Iowa
In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands - only to kill themselves as well.

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed - two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much.

She left her ten-year-old son, Rashan, in the care of relatives. 'He cries when he thinks of his mother,' said the dead woman's aunt, sitting listlessly in shade near the fields.

Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.

The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds.

But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were 'magic seeds' - with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.

Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks.

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations.

In return for allowing western companies access to the second most populated country in the world, with more than one billion people, India was granted International Monetary Fund loans in the Eighties and Nineties, helping to launch an economic revolution.

But while cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have boomed, the farmers' lives have slid back into the dark ages.

Though areas of India planted with GM seeds have doubled in two years - up to 17 million acres - many famers have found there is a terrible price to be paid.

Far from being 'magic seeds', GM pest-proof 'breeds' of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite.

Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death.

With rains failing for the past two years, many GM crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off.

Having taken loans from traditional money lenders at extortionate rates, hundreds of thousands of small farmers have faced losing their land as the expensive seeds fail, while those who could struggle on faced a fresh crisis.

When crops failed in the past, farmers could still save seeds and replant them the following year.

But with GM seeds they cannot do this. That's because GM seeds contain so- called 'terminator technology', meaning that they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops do not produce viable seeds of their own.

As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, that means the difference between life and death.

Take the case of Suresh Bhalasa, another farmer who was cremated this week, leaving a wife and two children.

As night fell after the ceremony, and neighbours squatted outside while sacred cows were brought in from the fields, his family had no doubt that their troubles stemmed from the moment they were encouraged to buy BT Cotton, a geneticallymodified plant created by Monsanto.

'We are ruined now,' said the dead man's 38-year-old wife. 'We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.'

Villagers bundled him into a rickshaw and headed to hospital along rutted farm roads. 'He cried out that he had taken the insecticide and he was sorry,' she said, as her family and neighbours crowded into her home to pay their respects. 'He was dead by the time they got to hospital.'

Asked if the dead man was a 'drunkard' or suffered from other 'social problems', as alleged by pro-GM officials, the quiet, dignified gathering erupted in anger. 'No! No!' one of the dead man's brothers exclaimed. 'Suresh was a good man. He sent his children to school and paid his taxes.

'He was strangled by these magic seeds. They sell us the seeds, saying they will not need expensive pesticides but they do. We have to buy the same seeds from the same company every year. It is killing us. Please tell the world what is happening here.'

Monsanto has admitted that soaring debt was a 'factor in this tragedy'. But pointing out that cotton production had doubled in the past seven years, a spokesman added that there are other reasons for the recent crisis, such as 'untimely rain' or drought, and pointed out that suicides have always been part of rural Indian life.

Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds - no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics.

During the course of my inquiries in Maharastra, I encountered three 'independent' surveyors scouring villages for information about suicides. They insisted that GM seeds were only 50 per cent more expensive - and then later admitted the difference was 1,000 per cent.

(A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is 'only double' the price of 'official' non-GM seed - but admitted that the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by 'unscrupulous' merchants, who often also sell 'fake' GM seeds which are prone to disease.)

With rumours of imminent government compensation to stem the wave of deaths, many farmers said they were desperate for any form of assistance. 'We just want to escape from our problems,' one said. 'We just want help to stop any more of us dying.'

Prince Charles is so distressed by the plight of the suicide farmers that he is setting up a charity, the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, to help those affected and promote organic Indian crops instead of GM.

India's farmers are also starting to fight back. As well as taking GM seed distributors hostage and staging mass protests, one state government is taking legal action against Monsanto for the exorbitant costs of GM seeds.

This came too late for Shankara Mandauker, who was 80,000 rupees (about £1,000) in debt when he took his own life. 'I told him that we can survive,' his widow said, her children still by her side as darkness fell. 'I told him we could find a way out. He just said it was better to die.'

But the debt does not die with her husband: unless she can find a way of paying it off, she will not be able to afford the children's schooling. They will lose their land, joining the hordes seen begging in their thousands by the roadside throughout this vast, chaotic country.

Cruelly, it's the young who are suffering most from the 'GM Genocide' - the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these 'magic seeds'.

Here in the suicide belt of India, the cost of the genetically modified future is murderously high.

Global Research Articles by Andrew Malone


Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse?

Will an Obama Administration Reverse the Tide?

The engineers of financial disaster are being considered by President-Elect Barack Obama for the position of Treasury Secretary.

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, November 9, 2008


Most Serious Economic Crisis in Modern History

The October 2008 financial meltdown is not the result of a cyclical economic phenomenon. It is the deliberate result of US government policy instrumented through the Treasury and the US Federal Reserve Board.

This is the most serious economic crisis in World history.

The "bailout" proposed by the US Treasury does not constitute a "solution" to the crisis. In fact quite the opposite: it is the cause of further collapse. It triggers an unprecedented concentration of wealth, which in turn contributes to widening economic and social inequalities both within and between nations.

The levels of indebtedness have skyrocketed. Industrial corporations are driven into bankruptcy, taken over by the global financial institutions. Credit, namely the supply of loanable funds, which constitutes the lifeline of production and investment, is controlled by a handful of financial conglomerates.

With the "bailout", the public debt has spiraled. America is the most indebted country on earth. Prior to the "bailout", the US public debt was of the order of 10 trillion dollars. This US dollar denominated debt is composed of outstanding treasury bills and government bonds held by individuals, foreign governments, corporations and financial institutions.

"The Bailout": The US Administration is Financing its Own Indebtedness

Ironically, the Wall Street banks --which are the recipients of the bailout money-- are also the brokers and underwriters of the US public debt. Although the banks hold only a portion of the public debt, they transact and trade in US dollar denominated public debt instruments Worldwide.

In a bitter twist, the banks are the recipients of a 700+ billion dollar handout and at the same time they act as creditors of the US government.

We are dealing with an absurd circular relationship: To finance the bailout, Washington must borrow from the banks, which are the recipients of the bailout.

The US administration is financing its own indebtedness.

Federal, State and municipal governments are increasingly in a straightjacket, under the tight control of the global financial conglomerates. Increasingly, the creditors call the shots on government reform.

The bailout is conducive to the consolidation and centralization of banking power, which in turn backlashes on real economic activity, leading to a string of bankruptcies and mass unemployment.

Will an Obama Administration Reverse the Tide?

The financial crisis is the outcome of a deregulated financial architecture.

Obama has stated unequivocally his resolve to address the policy failures of the Bush administration and "democratize" the US financial system. President-Elect Barack Obama says that he is committed to reversing the tide:

"Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people." (President-elect Barack Obama, November 4, 2008, emphasis added)

The Democrats casually blame the Bush administration for the October financial meltdown.

Obama says that he will be introducing an entirely different policy agenda which responds to the interests of Main Street:

"Tomorrow, you can turn the page on policies that put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of men and women all across Main Street. Tomorrow you can choose policies that invest in our middle class and create new jobs and grow this economy so that everybody has a chance to succeed, from the CEO to the secretary and the janitor, from the factory owner to the men and women who work on the factory floor.( Barack Obama, election campaign, November 3, 2008, emphasis added)

Is Obama committed to "taming Wall Street" and "disarming financial markets"?

Ironically, it was under the Clinton administration that these policies of "greed and irresponsibility" were adopted.

The 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act (FSMA) was conducive to the the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. A pillar of President Roosevelt’s "New Deal", the Glass-Steagall Act was put in place in response to the climate of corruption, financial manipulation and "insider trading" which resulted in more than 5,000 bank failures in the years following the 1929 Wall Street crash.

Bill Clinton signs into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, November 12, 1999

Under the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, effective control over the entire US financial services industry (including insurance companies, pension funds, securities companies, etc.) had been transferred to a handful of financial conglomerates and their associated hedge funds.

The Engineers of Financial Disaster

Who are the architects of this debacle?

In a bitter irony, the engineers of financial disaster are now being considered by President-Elect Barack Obama's Transition Team for the position Treasury Secretary:

Lawrence Summers played a key role in lobbying Congress for the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. His timely appointment by President Clinton in 1999 as Treasury Secretary spearheaded the adoption of the Financial Services Modernization Act in November 1999. Upon completing his mandate at the helm of the US Treasury, he became president of Harvard University (2001- 2006).

Paul Volker was chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in the l980s during the Reagan era. He played a central role in implementing the first stage of financial deregulation, which was conducive to mass bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions, leading up to the 1987 financial crisis.

Timothy Geithner is CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which is the most powerful private financial institution in America. He was also a former Clinton administration Treasury official. He has worked for Kissinger Associates and has also held a senior position at the IMF. The FRBNY plays a behind the scenes role in shaping financial policy. Geithner acts on behalf of powerful financiers, who are behind the FRBNY. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Jon Corzine is currently governor of New Jersey, former CEO of Goldman Sachs.

At the time of writing, Obama's favorite is Larry Summers, front-runner for the position of Treasury Secretary.

Harvard University Economics Professor Lawrence Summers served as Chief Economist for the World Bank (1991–1993). He contributed to shaping the macro-economic reforms imposed on numerous indebted developing countries. The social and economic impact of these reforms under the IMF-World Bank sponsored structural adjustment program (SAP) were devastating, resulting in mass poverty.

Larry Summer's stint at the World Bank coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the imposition of the IMF-World Bank's deadly " economic medicine" on Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics and the Balkans.

In 1993, Summers moved to the US Treasury. He initially held the position of Undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs and later Deputy Secretary. In liaison with his former colleagues at the IMF and the World Bank, he played a key role in crafting the economic "shock treatment" reform packages imposed at the height of the 1997 Asian crisis on South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia.

The bailout agreements negotiated with these three countries were coordinated through Summers office at the Treasury in liaison with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions. Summers worked closely with IMF Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer, who was later appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Israel.

Larry Summers became Treasury Secretary in July 1999. He is a protégé of David Rockefeller. He was among the main architects of the infamous Financial Services Modernization Act, which provided legitimacy to inside trading and outright financial manipulation.

Larry Summers and David Rockefeller

"Putting the Fox in Charge of the Chicken Coop"

Summers is currently a Consultant to Goldman Sachs and managing director of a Hedge fund, the D.E. Shaw Group, As a Hedge Fund manager, his contacts at the Treasury and on Wall Street provide him with valuable inside information on the movement of financial markets. Under the helm of Larry Summers and as a direct result of the financial meltdown, the D. E. Shaw Group made record profits. At the end of October 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, the D. E. Shaw Group announced $7 billion in revenue, a 22 percent increase over the previous year, "with nearly three times more cash on hand than a year ago" (, 31 October 2008).

Putting a Hedge Fund manager (with links to the Wall Street financial establishment) in charge of the Treasury is tantamount to putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

The Washington Consensus

Summers, Geithner, Corzine, Volker, Fischer, Phil Gramm, Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Rubin, not to mention Alan Greenspan, al al. are buddies; they play golf together; they have links to the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg; they act concurrently in accordance with the interests of Wall Street; they meet behind closed doors; they are on the same wave length; they are Democrats and Republicans.

While they may disagree on some issues, they are firmly committed to the Washington-Wall Street Consensus. They are utterly ruthless in their management of economic and financial processes. Their actions are profit driven. Outside of their narrow interest in the "efficiency" of "markets", they have little concern for "living human beings". How are people's lives affected by the deadly gamut of macro-economic and financial reforms, which is spearheading entire sectors of economic activity into bankruptcy.

The economic reasoning underlying neoliberal economic discourse is often cynical and contemptuous. In this regard, Lawrence Summers' economic discourse stands out. He is known among environmentalists for having proposed the dumping of toxic waste in Third World countries, because people in poor countries have shorter lives and the costs of labor are abysmally low, which essentially means that the market value of people in the Third World is much lower. According to summers, this makes it far more "cost effective" to export toxic materials to impoverished countries. A controversial 1991 World Bank memo signed by of Chief Economist Larry Summers reads as follows (excerpts, emphasis added):

DATE: December 12, 1991 TO: Distribution FR: Lawrence H. Summers Subject: GEP

"'Dirty' Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the Less Developed Countries? I can think of three reasons:

1) The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality.... From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

2) The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.

3) The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity. [the demand increases when income levels increase]. The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is is 200 per thousand.... "

Summers stance on the export of pollution to developing countries had a marked impact on US environmental policy:

In 1994, "virtually every country in the world broke with Mr. Summers' Harvard-trained "economic logic" ruminations about dumping rich countries' poisons on their poorer neighbors, and agreed to ban the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD [developing] countries under the Basel Convention. Five years later, the United States is one of the few countries that has yet to ratify the Basel Convention or the Basel Convention's Ban Amendment on the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries. (Jim Valette, Larry Summers' War Against the Earth, Counterpunch, undated)

The 1997 Asian Crisis: Dress Rehearsal for Things to Come

In the course of 1997, currency speculation instrumented by major financial institutions directed against Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea was conducive to the collapse of national currencies and the transfer of billions of dollars of central bank reserves into private financial hands. Several observers pointed to the deliberate manipulation of equity and currency markets by investment banks and brokerage firms.

While the Asian bailout agreements were formally negotiated with the IMF, the major Wall Street commercial banks (including Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and J. P. Morgan) as well as the "big five" merchant banks (Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Salomon Smith Barney) were "consulted" on the clauses to be included in the Asian bail-out agreements.

The US Treasury in liaison with Wall Street and the Bretton Woods institutions played a central role in negotiating the bailout agreements. Both Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, were actively involved on behalf of the US Treasury in the 1997 bailout of South Korea:

[In 1997] "Messrs. Summers and Geithner worked to persuade Mr. Rubin to support financial aid to South Korea. Mr. Rubin was wary of such a move, worrying that providing money to a country in dire straits might be a losing proposition..." (WSJ, November 8, 2008)

What happened in Korea under advice from Deputy Treasury Secretary Summers et al, had nothing to do with "financial aid".

The country was literally ransacked. Undersecretary of the Treasury David Lipton was sent to Seoul in early December 1997. Secret negotiations were initiated. Washington had demanded the firing of the Korean Finance Minister and the unconditional acceptance of the IMF "bailout".

A new finance minister, who happened to be former IMF and World Bank official, was appointed and immediately rushed off to Washington for "consultations" with his former IMF colleague Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer.

"The Korean Legislature had met in emergency sessions on December 23. The final decision concerning the 57 billion dollar deal took place the following day, on Christmas Eve December 24th, after office hours in New York. Wall Street’s top financiers, from Chase Manhattan, Bank America, Citicorp and J. P. Morgan had been called in for a meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Also at the Christmas Eve venue, were representatives of the "big five" New York merchant banks including Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Salomon Smith Barney. And at midnight on Christmas Eve, upon receiving the green light from the banks, the IMF was allowed "to rush 10 billion dollars to Seoul to meet the avalanche of maturing short-term debts".

The coffers of Korea’s central Bank had been ransacked. Creditors and speculators were anxiously awaiting to collect the loot. The same institutions which had earlier speculated against the Korean won were cashing in on the IMF bailout money. It was a scam. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The Recolonization of Korea, subsequently published as a chapter in The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, Global Research, Montreal, 2003.)

"Strong economic medicine" is the prescription of the Washington Consensus. "Short term pain for long term gain" was the motto at the World Bank during Lawrence Summers term of as World Bank Chief Economist. (See IMF, World Bank Reforms Leave Poor Behind, Bank Economist Finds, Bloomberg, November 7, 2000)

What we dealing with is an entire " old boys network" of officials and advisers at the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the IMF, World Bank, the Washington Think Tanks, who are in permanent liaison with leading financiers on Wall Street.

Whoever is chosen by Obama's Transition team will belong to the Washington Consensus.

The 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act

What happened in October 1999 is crucial.

In the wake of lengthy negotiations behind closed doors, in the Wall Street boardrooms, in which Larry Summers played a central role, the regulatory restraints on Wall Street’s powerful banking conglomerates were revoked "with a stroke of the pen".

Larry Summers worked closely with Senator Phil Gramm (1985-2002),chairman of the Senate Banking committee, who was the legislative architect of the the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, signed into law on November 12, 1999 (See Group Photo above). (For Complete text click US Congress: Pub.L. 106-102). As Texas Senator, Phil Gramm was closely associated with Enron.

In December 2000 at the very end of the Clinton mandate, Gramm introduced a second piece of legislation, the so-called Gramm-Lugar Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which paved the way for the speculative onslaught in primary commodities including oil and food staples.

"The act, he declared, would ensure that neither the sec nor the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (cftc) got into the business of regulating newfangled financial products called swaps—and would thus "protect financial institutions from overregulation" and "position our financial services industries to be world leaders into the new century." (See David Corn, Foreclosure Phil, Mother Jones, July August 2008)

Phil Gramm was McCain's first choice for Secretary of the Treasury.

Under the FSMA new rules – ratified by the US Senate in October 1999 and approved by President Clinton – commercial banks, brokerage firms, hedge funds, institutional investors, pension funds and insurance companies could freely invest in each others businesses as well as fully integrate their financial operations.

A "global financial supermarket" had been created, setting the stage for a massive concentration of financial power. One of the key figures behind this project was Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, in liaison with David Rockefeller. Summers described the FSMA as "the legislative foundation of the financial system of the 21th century". That legislative foundation is among the main causes of the 2008 financial meltdown.

Financial Disarmament

There can be no meaningful solution to the crisis, unless there is a major reform in the financial architecture, implying inter alia the freezing of speculative trade and the "disarming of financial markets". The project of disarming financial markets was first proposed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1940s as a means to the establishment of a multipolar international monetary system. (See J.M. Keynes, Activities 1940-1944, Shaping the Post-War World: The Clearing Union, The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, Royal Economic Society, Macmillan and Cambridge University Press, Vol. XXV, London 1980, p. 57).

Main Street versus Wall Street

Where are Obama's "Main Street appointees"? Namely individuals who respond to the interests of people across America. There are no labor or community leaders on Obama's list for key positions.

The President-elect is appointing the architects of financial deregulation.

Meaningful financial reform cannot be adopted by officials appointed by Wall Street and who act on behalf of Wall Street.

Those who set the financial system ablaze in 1999, have been called back to turn out the fire.

The proposed "solution" to the crisis under the "bailout" is the cause of further economic collapse.

There are no policy solutions on the horizon.

The banking conglomerates call the shots. They decide on the composition of the Obama Cabinet. They also decide on the agenda of the Washington Financial Summit (November 15, 2008) which is slated to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a new "global financial architecture".

The Wall Street blueprint has already been discussed behind closed doors: the hidden agenda is to establish a unipolar international monetary system, dominated by US financial power, which in turn would be protected and secured by US military superiority.

Neoliberalism with a "Human Face"

There is no indication that Obama will break his ties to his Wall Street sponsors, who largely funded his election campaign.

Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bill Gates' Microsoft are among his main campaign contributors.

Warren Buffett, among the the world's richest individuals, not only supported Barak Obama's election campaign, he is a member of his transition team, which plays a key role deciding the composition of Obama's cabinet.

Warren Buffett

Unless there is a major upheaval in the system of political appointments to key positions, an alternative Obama economic agenda geared towards poverty alleviation and employment creation is highly unlikely.

What we are witnessing is continuity.

Obama provides a " human face" to the status quo. This human face serves to mislead Americans on the nature of the economic and political process.

The neoliberal economic reforms remain intact.

The substance of these reforms including the "bailout" of America's largest financial institutions ultimately destroys the real economy, while spearheading entire areas of manufacturing and the services economy into bankruptcy.

by Michel Chossudovsky

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

GM COTTON: Trojan horse of biotech multinationals

GM cotton set to invade West Africa

Time to act!


June 2004


About this briefing

This briefing is the result of research undertaken by GRAIN in collaboration with several national and regional partners in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. GRAIN interviewed dozens of scientists, farmers and representatives of professional organisations from the cotton sector in each of these countries, and spent time with them reflecting on the significance of Bt cotton for their communities, their countries and West Africa in general. The briefing also draws heavily on the experiences of other countries where Bt cotton has already been introduced, such as India and South Africa. This briefing is designed to help farmers and local communities, researchers, NGOs, policy-makers and media people understand the implications of Bt cotton for West Africa.

Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active on cotton or sustainable agriculture issues participated in the editing of the document. These include:

- OBEPAB: Organisation Béninoise pour la Promotion de l’Agriculture Biologique (Benin),

- REDAD: Réseau pour le Développement Durable (Benin)

- GIPD: Projet de Gestion Intégrée de la Production et des Déprédateurs (Mali)

- PAN Afrique: Pesticides Action Network (Senegal)

GRAIN would like to thank Mamadou Ouologuem, a Malian agricultural scientist, for helping with the final stages of writing this document. We would also like to thank all of those who collaborated with us and provided us with information during the research and production of this document.

1. Introduction

West African farmers once produced cotton for dynamic local markets and a thriving local textile industry. In their fields, they grew a diversity of cotton varieties, adapted to local ecologies and cultural preferences, which they integrated into the production of other crops and which they only harvested when the market price was right.[1]

Traditional cotton production changed dramatically with colonialism. Cotton was the engine of imperial expansion, and the European powers, thirsty for alternative sources of “white gold” that could lessen their dependence on the United States, set their sights on Africa. West African farmers resisted, but France and the other European imperial powers used a range of tactics—forced labour, regulations, targeted subsidies, destruction of local markets, etc—to overwhelm them and reorganise the various local cotton production systems into an intensive, export-oriented system serving the interests of their own cotton industries.

In the French controlled areas of West Africa, all production was controlled by the Compagnie Française de Développement Textile (CFDT), the cotton company of the French state. The CFDT set-up highly integrated, vertical production systems in each country, which were supported by a regional research centre tied to the French national research agency, now known as the Centre Français de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD). With farmers having little choice but to accept the package of chemical inputs and seeds distributed by the company, traditional cotton varieties rapidly gave way to “modern” varieties designed to meet the needs of the global cotton industry, which preferred American cotton varieties. After independence, the CFDT was dissolved into national companies, but the French firm maintained an influential position within the national companies and the production model it established remained intact.

Some see the development of the export-oriented cotton industry in West Africa as a great success. West African cotton farmers are highly competitive and known for the quality of their cotton, and cotton is one of the few crops with a functioning production and marketing chain that farmers can earn income from. Today cotton dominates the economies of the countries of the region, accounting for 75% of export earnings in Benin, 50% in Mali and 60% in Burkina Faso.[2] Yet, “white gold” has not brought riches to West African farmers. The profits that farmers made during the early years of the national cotton companies have largely disappeared, while the associated costs of cotton production continue to increase—deforestation and soil degradation, social dislocation, pesticide poisonings, debt, low and unstable market prices, and the neglect of food crops.[3]

West African farmers are trying to change this situation. They have organised independent farmers’ unions that can voice the interests of their members, counter the power of the cotton companies and improve conditions for farmers. At the international level, they are leading a campaign against US and European cotton subsidies. Back home, some farmers’ unions have begun to look more critically at the dominant model of cotton production, questioning the need for chemical inputs and looking for means to reduce their dependence on cotton. Researchers and farmers are successfully rebuilding agricultural practices based on farmer knowledge and local resources that greatly reduce the use of pesticides. Through determined struggle, many farmers’ unions now have a powerful position at the table with respect to national cotton policy.

But these achievements are not assured. Farmers may have carved out a certain amount of political leverage in their national cotton structures, but the context is changing rapidly, and foreign transnational corporations (TNCs) now have their sights set on West African cotton production. Their most visible entry point is through the World Bank’s aggressive efforts to privatise the national cotton companies. But there is another way for corporations to control and profit from cotton production that is equally dangerous to farmers: taking over the seed.

The very transnational corporations that brought these hazardous and costly chemicals to the region are now promoting a new set of technologies that they claim will resolve the problems created by the old. Monsanto, an American pesticide corporation, is now promoting a genetically modified (GM) cotton variety called “Bt cotton”, which it claims will reduce pesticide use, increase yields and increase income.[4]

Farmers are the people who will be at the sharp end of introducing GM crops to the region and should be central to making such decisions. But Bt cotton is moving into the region without the approval or even the awareness of the vast majority of West African farmers and their organisations. Bt cotton is the first of many GM crops set to be introduced in the region and it is essential for farmers and their organisations to take informed positions immediately, especially with such an important crop like cotton. This study seeks to make a contribution in this regard, by providing farmers with a critical and accessible analysis of Bt cotton.

The study begins with an assessment of the principal claims made by the promoters of Bt cotton: that Bt cotton will 1) reduce the use of insecticides; 2) increase yields; and 3) increase incomes for farmers. The second part of the study examines four of the consequences of Bt cotton: 1) the criminalisation of traditional farming practices; 2) genetic contamination; 3) the development of pest resistance to Bt cotton; and, 4) the effects on Bt cotton quality. This study does not deal directly with the biosafety issues relating to Bt cotton (environmental and health impacts), because these issues go beyond the scope of this study. We hope that others will take up these important questions.

2. What is Bt cotton?

The letters "Bt" stand for Bacillus thuringiensis, a toxin-producing bacterium found naturally in soils that farmers use to control insect pests, particularly caterpillars. Scientists have isolated certain genes responsible for the production of these toxins, most commonly the Cry1Ac or Cry2Ab toxins, and have then used genetic engineering techniques to insert them into cotton. The resulting cotton plants produce the Bt toxins and susceptible pests die when they eat them.

In 2002, Bt cotton was planted on 4.6 million hectares worldwide, approximately 13% of the global cotton area.[5] Almost all of this Bt cotton acreage was sown to Monsanto's "Bollgard" variety. Bollgard is genetically modified to produce the Cry1Ac toxin of Bacillus thuringiensis. Monsanto has developed a second Bt cotton variety, "Bollgard II", which produces two different toxins, Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab. In 2004, Dow Agro-sciences hopes to introduce "Widestrike", another Bt cotton producing two toxins (Cry1Ac and Cry1F), while Syngenta is trying to introduce its Bt cotton, "VIP Cotton" (see Table 1).[6]

Table 1. Companies producing Bt cotton
Bt cotton variety

Monsanto (USA)

Bollgard II

Dow Agrosciences (USA)

Syngenta (Switzerland)
VIP cotton

3. Can Bt cotton offer advantages for West African farmers?

The promoters of Bt cotton maintain that it provides farmers with three principal advantages. Each of these is discussed below.

a) Will Bt cotton reduce the use of insecticides?

Bt cotton does not eliminate the use of pesticides; and there is little evidence for significant reductions in overall pesticide use. The Bt toxins expressed by Bt cotton only target lepidopteran pests (caterpillars) and some lepidopteran pests are more susceptible than others. Bt cotton has been shown to be effective against the tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens) and the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), but less effective in controlling cotton bollworms (Helicoverpa zea and Helicoverpa armigera), an important cotton pest in West Africa.[7] This is why farmers growing Bt cotton continue to use pesticides against bollworms and continue to experience damage from these pests. In the US, despite the use of supplementary insecticides, farmers growing Bt cotton lost around 7.5% of their crop to cotton bollworms in 2002. During that year, 36% of the Bt cotton fields in the US were sprayed with insecticides specifically targeting bollworms and other caterpillar pests. Farmers outside the US have had similar experiences. In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where Bt cotton was cultivated for the first time in 2002, Monsanto’s Bollgard cotton failed to control cotton bollworms.[8]

Monsanto claims that its new Bt cotton, Bollgard II, enhances its control of bollworms and other caterpillars, but its effectiveness has yet to be seen. The available data supporting such claims are on studies of small, isolated fields, and definitive predictions about Bollgard II’s effectiveness against bollworms on a large-scale cannot be made.[9] Moreover, in these small-scale studies significant numbers of cotton bollworms are still found to survive on Bollgard II. [10] As noted by University of Mississippi entomologist Blake Layton, under heavy population pressure bollworms will cause significant damage, even in fields of Bollgard II.[11]

There are many important cotton insect pests for which Bt cotton offers no control, such as sucking pests like aphids and jassids. These secondary pests can result in significant crop damage on Bt crops, which helps to explain why insecticide use remains high in Bt cotton fields. In Australia, pesticide use against bollworms has declined, but farmers still spray their Bt cotton fields with insecticides 4.6 times per year.[12] The adoption of Bt cotton may even increase problems with secondary pests. In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, farmers growing Bt crops had to spray more against aphids than farmers growing conventional crops.[13] In the US, where insecticide use against bollworms has dropped by half since the introduction of Bt cotton, total insecticide use has remained stable due to the growing importance of secondary pests.[14]

In West Africa, cotton farmers have to manage a diversity of pests and many of the more important pests would either not be controlled or be only partially controlled by Bt cotton (see Table 2). Bt cotton is toxic to a few important cotton pests in West Africa. But growing Bt cotton does not automatically translate into a reduction in pesticide use and damage from pests. The vast majority of West African farmers spray their cotton fields with broad-spectrum pesticides according to a calendar method, which begins with 2 treatments of an organophosphate pesticide or endosulfan, followed by 3 or 4 treatments of a mixture of organophosphates and pyrethroids.[15] These pesticides are used to control all cotton pests, not simply those targeted by Bt cotton. Simply cutting back on pesticide use will mean greater problems with pests not controlled by Bt cotton, as cotton farmers in the US have experienced.[16] In order to reduce pesticide use with Bt cotton, farmers must adopt more complicated and targeted pesticide practices.

There are already several efforts underway in West Africa to help farmers adjust their pest management practices and reduce the use of pesticides. The longest-standing programme is called targeted application management, lutte étagée ciblée (LEC) in French.[17] National cotton companies and the national research institutes began experimenting with LEC in the early 1990s in response to the growing evidence of harm to people and the environment caused by pesticide use on cotton. LEC only slightly deviates from the calendar method by encouraging farmers to adjust the dosage of their pesticide treatments according to pre-determined pest threshold levels. This may sound simple enough, but, given the rampant illiteracy in the countryside, LEC projects have had to integrate literacy programmes in parallel in order to be effective.

In Mali, the national cotton company, the Compagnie Malienne pour le Développment des Textiles (CMDT), launched an LEC programme in 1993 in collaboration with the main cotton farmers’ unions and the national agricultural research service, the Institut de l’Économie Rurale (IER). It was an immediate success, causing the project leaders to explore ways to reduce pesticide use even further. In the 2000-2001 season, they launched a new programme called threshold application management, in which farmers make an initial pesticide application and from then on only spray if pest damage reaches a certain economic threshold. Farmers reduced their use of pesticides by 70% compared to the calendar method, without diminishing their yields.[18] Farmers participating in the project near to the Fana CMDT station only make one pesticide application per season.[19]

Pesticide reduction projects have had similar success in Benin. Here, the LEC programme is part of a larger project to improve and diversify agriculture, called Projet d’Amélioration et de Diversification des Systèmes d’Exploitation (PADSE). During the first three years of the project, farmers practising LEC increased their yields by 10% and saved 45% on pesticide expenditures.

These projects show that there are no technical constraints to reducing pesticide use on cotton in West Africa. However, despite the success of LEC and the threshold application management projects, these projects only extend to a minority of farmers. In Benin, LEC was practiced on less than 3% of the entire cotton area during the 2002-2003 season. In Mali, LEC and the threshold application management programmes were practised on less than 10% of the national cotton area. Only 787 farmers on 2,500 ha practised threshold application management during the 2002-2003 season. The big problem holding these projects back is the lack of resources and political will to implement them. In Mali, the CMDT’s plans to expand its projects were abruptly constrained by the implementation of a privatisation programme called for by the World Bank that led to massive cutbacks to its extension services.
Local alternatives to reduce pesticides

There are new initiatives afoot to reduce pesticide use in cotton that look more promising for West African farmers than Bt cotton. In 2001, the FAO launched its Integrated Pest and Production Management (IPPM) Programme in the region. The programme was initiated in Mali, where it is carried out in collaboration with the CMDT, IER and the principal cotton farmers' organisations. Contrary to previous pesticide reduction projects, under IPPM farmers are the central actors, while the researchers and extension agents serve merely to facilitate the process and encourage farmers to take autonomous decisions. The project encourages farmers to maximise the use of local resources and knowledge and to minimise off-farm inputs, such as pesticides and fertilisers. The project operates through Farmer Field Schools, where farmers and scientists work together to develop pest management and production practices.

During the first season of the programme, participating farmers were able to completely eliminate the use of pesticides without reducing their yield. Instead of using chemical pesticides, farmers used neem, a local plant with insecticidal properties, and traditional pest management practices that they had long neglected. The results from the 2002-2003 season, involving 375 farmers, are even more encouraging. The average yields for farmers practicing IPPM were 25% higher and their average net revenues were 49% higher than farmers using conventional practices, and they used 70% less pesticides.[20] Researchers that were once sceptical about the project's potential have changed their minds. “At the beginning we didn't believe it was possible, but today it's a reality,” says IER entomologist Mamoutou Togola. Farmers from other countries in the region have visited the project and are keen to start the programme in their own localities. In 2003-2004, IPPM projects were launched in Senegal and Burkina Faso, and plans are underway to establish projects in Mauritania, Guinea, Niger and Benin in 2005.

Farmers and agricultural organisations in West Africa are increasingly turning to organic production. Two organic cotton projects began in Senegal in 1995—one organised by Enda Pronat and the Pesticide Action Network-UK in the region of Tambacounda and the other by the Groupement d'Intérêt Économique (GIE) in the region of Kolda. These two projects produced around 500 tonnes of cotton in 2001. Organic cotton production began in Benin in 1996 and there are now projects in the zones of Kandi, Djidja, Dassa-Zoumè, Aklampa and Doumè.[21] The number of farmers participating in these projects, which are led primarily by the Organisation Béninoise pour la promotion de l'Agriculture Biologique (OBEPAB), the Projet d'Appui au Développement Institutionnel de la Circonscription Urbaine de Kandi (PADIC) and, more recently, the Swiss organisation Helvétas, increased from 57 in 1996 to 367 in 2001.[22] The first organic cotton project in Mali was launched in 1996 by Helvétas.[23]

b) Will Bt cotton increase yields?

Bt cotton is genetically modified to produce a toxin that kills certain insects, not to increase yields. Claims made about Bt cotton’s ability to increase yield relate to its capacity to reduce damage caused by insects. So where farmers are already successful in keeping damage from pests at low levels, there is little potential for Bt cotton to increase yields.[24] This is the case in most of West Africa, as current pest management practices are able to effectively control cotton pests.[25]

It is, however, possible for Bt cotton to decrease yields. The imprecise process of genetic modification can have unintended consequences on plant varieties. In India, for example, a comparative study of Bt and non-Bt cotton grown in the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh found that bolls on the non-Bt cotton plants were bigger and more plentiful. The non-Bt cotton had 95 bolls per plant on average and the Bt cotton had only 50.[26] Another study of 225 farmers from the Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh, India, found that Bt cotton yields were on average 35% lower than non-Bt cotton crops. Both studies also found that the conventional cotton had a better quality fibre, resulting in a better price in the market. According to the authors of the Warangal study,

“In Warangal, all the farmers who had grown Bt crop witnessed a drop in the price for their produce as well as less preference by the traders. So they had resorted to mixing of both Bt and non-Bt seed cotton to offset the drop in the price as well as to push their Bt produce under the cover of non-Bt seed cotton. Another important reason for mixing Bt and non-Bt was the shorter staple length of the Bt seed cotton. As Bt seed lint was attracting less price and preference from the market, they had mixed the two before taking their produce to the market.”[27]

c) Will Bt cotton increase income for farmers?

Given current market prices around the world for Bt cotton and the average cost of pesticides for cotton farmers in West Africa, there is no way that Bt cotton can provide an economic advantage to the average West African cotton farmer. The costs for pesticide use on cotton in West Africa are relatively low compared with other parts of the world; West African farmers spend an average of around $68 US .[28] As a result, the high cost of the Bt cotton seed cannot be compensated for by lower pesticide costs.

One of the reasons that Bt cotton seed is so expensive is because when farmers purchase Bt cotton seeds they have to pay a “technology fee” to Monsanto on top of the price of the seed. The technology fee is either included in the price of the seed or charged separately and the fee varies from country to country and from technology to technology (see Table 5). The technology fee for Bollgard II, which Monsanto is working on introducing in West Africa is much higher than that for Bollgard.

Table 5. Technology fees for Bt cotton around the world
Technology fee for Bollgard

Technology fee for Bollgard II

United States
79 $US/ha
99 $US/ha

98 $US/ha

78 $ US/ha

60 $US/ha (approx.)

60 $US/ha (approx)

South Africa
50 $US/ha (approx.)

Sources: Elton Robinson, “Bollgard II advances technology,” Delta Farm Press, November 15, 2002; Richard Haire, “Meeting the challenges facing Australia’s agribusiness sector Cotton’s Future,” A presentation to the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, 2003:; Johann Kirsten and Marnus Gouse, “Bt Cotton in South Africa: Adoption and impact on farm incomes amongst small- and large-scale farmers,” ISB News Report, October, 2002; Jikun Huang et al, “Bt Cotton Benefits, Costs, and Impacts in China”, AgBioForum 5(4), 2002; Abdul Qayam and Kiran Sakkhari, « Did Bt Cotton Save Farmers in Warangal? A season long impact study of Bt Cotton - Kharif 2002 in Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh », AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity and Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad, June 2003:; Rafi Chaudhry, Head, Technical Information Section, International Cotton Advisory Committee, “Cotton Tomorrow,” Presented at the International Technical Seminar on Cotton, Bogota, Colombia, August 8-9, 2003.

Given the cost of the technology fees for Bt cotton in other countries, we can assume that farmers in West Africa will have to pay at least a $60 US/ha technology fee for Monsanto’s Bollgard II cotton. With the cost of pesticides averaging $68 US/ha, Bt cotton would have to completely eliminate the use of insecticides to be potentially economic for West African farmers. As we have shown, this is not going to occur; Bt cotton will, at best, only slightly reduce the amount of insecticide used. So, overall, Bt cotton will increase costs for West African farmers.

4. Counting the costs: some of Bt cotton’s consequences for West African farmers

Debate over Bt cotton tends to focus on the promised advantages, while far too little attention is paid to the potential negative consequences. This is a serious omission in West Africa, where Bt cotton puts the livelihoods of much of the population at risk.

a) The criminalisation of farmer practices

Most cotton seed in West Africa is not sold; the cotton companies either provide seed to farmers for free or for a modest fee that they deduct from the price they pay for the farmer’s harvest. The fee is supposed to reflect the costs of de-linting and cleaning the seeds. West African farmers have consistently opposed any attempts to charge more for seeds. As they see it, the seeds belong to them, since they produced the seeds and they paid for the plant breeding that went in to developing the seeds. Although seed saving has dwindled with the growth of the national cotton companies, farmers continue to share and exchange seeds with family members and neighbours, and the practice of seed saving could easily recommence if seed prices were to rise.

The introduction of Bt cotton will deeply affect seed practices in the region. Bt cotton will be sold by the national cotton companies under license to Monsanto and the national cotton companies will be responsible for collecting Monsanto’s technology fee. This will leave the national companies with two options:

The first option is that they would sell the Bt cotton to individual farmers under Monsanto’s infamous grower contracts, which is how Bt cotton is sold in most of the world. Monsanto’s contracts specify that:

- The farmers cannot save seeds for replanting

- The farmer cannot share or exchange seeds with anyone else

- The farmer has to pay 120 times the technology fee plus any legal fees incurred by Monsanto if the farmer does not respect the terms of the contract

- The farmer has to comply with any inspectors Monsanto sends to his or her fields

Monsanto takes its contracts seriously. In the US it has a team of 75 employees with an annual budget of $75 million to enforce and supervise the contracts.[29] The company has taken 73 farmers to court over the past five years and, in May 2003, an American cotton grower was sent to jail for 8 months. Monsanto keeps lists of those growers that purchase its seeds and it monitors them closely, even in the countries of the “South” where it sells its Bt cotton, such as Mexico and Argentina.[30]

It’s hard to imagine how the national cotton companies will be able to enforce these contracts and prevent farmers from saving seeds, sharing seeds with neighbours or even developing their own Bt varieties. With the high level of illiteracy in the countryside, farmers won’t understand the contracts they are signing and the lack of a visible difference between Bt cotton and non-Bt cotton will only make the situation more complicated. In India, where the context is somewhat similar, the situation is out of control with widespread mixing of Bt and non-Bt cotton and the emergence of a huge black market in “generic” and non-regulated Bt cotton varieties.[31]

Under these circumstances it is much more likely that the West African cotton companies and Monsanto (and other Bt cotton corporations) will turn to a second option. Under this second option, the cotton companies will charge farmers royalties once they bring in their harvests. They may test the cotton that farmers drop-off to see if it is Bt cotton and then force farmers to pay the technology fee if they detect the presence of Bt cotton. This is the strategy that Monsanto is pursuing with its GM soybeans in Brazil. The problem, however, is that with the widespread contamination that is bound to take place, many farmers will unknowingly have Bt cotton present in their harvest and will be forced to pay a fee to Monsanto or risk a much larger fine or even imprisonment (see Contamination section below). Alternatively, the national cotton companies may decide to provide farmers with no option but to grow Bt cotton and to deduct a technology fee from the harvest of every cotton farmer in the country. This second possibility would conform to the traditional operations of the national cotton companies, where all farmers are expected to use the same package of inputs. But it would not only hurt farmers financially; it would put an immediate end to the promising efforts, already well underway, to reduce or eliminate pesticide use and the dependence on expensive, foreign technologies.

b) Bt cotton and contamination: Opening Pandora’s box

Co-existence between conventional and GM cotton is not possible. If Bt cotton is introduced in the region, the contamination of non-Bt cotton is inevitable. As there is no way to easily distinguish between Bt cotton and non-Bt cotton, Bt cotton will easily end up being mixed into the conventional cotton supply when farmers drop off their harvests, when the cotton is transported, or when seeds are cleaned and distributed. Contamination will also take place in the fields through cross-pollination, either by way of wind or, more likely, by way of insect pollinators.

This contamination will be a serious problem for West Africa:

-First, genetic modification is a new technique that is far from fully understood and the impacts on the environment and human health could take years to appear. But, once GM crops are introduced it is difficult, if not impossible, to take them out of the environment, especially for poor countries with few resources, like those of West Africa.

-Second, Monsanto and other transnational corporations hold patent rights over the transgenic genes in GM crops and they claim that their rights extend to any plants that contain those transgenes, even if these plants incorporated the transgenes through contamination. In other words, if a farmer’s crop is contaminated with Monsanto’s Bt cotton, then that crop becomes Monsanto’s property and the farmer will have to pay Monsanto royalties on it. This is precisely what happened to Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser. Monsanto inspectors discovered that his canola crop was contaminated with a transgene patented by Monsanto that makes plants resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Even though Schmeiser says that his fields were probably contaminated by neighbouring GM canola fields, Monsanto accused Schmeiser of acquiring its GM canola illegally and sued him for loss of royalties. While the court could not determine if Schmeiser had deliberately acquired Monsanto’s GM technology or benefited from it, the court ruled in favour of Monsanto, forcing Schmeiser to pay Monsanto over $200,000 in royalties and legal fees.

-Third, Bt cotton can contaminate local cotton varieties and their relatives, leading to consequences for the local ecology and breeding programmes. For these reasons, Bt cotton is prohibited in the US states of Hawaii and and Florida where there are local cotton varieties and wild species of cotton.[32] In West Africa, there are important varieties of local cotton (G. arboreum and G. herbaceum) and several wild species of cotton that exist throughout the region. Moreover, cotton is part of the Malvaceae family, which includes many plants and trees common to West Africa, such as hibiscus, baobob and cola.[33]

-Finally, Bt cotton contamination could destroy the emerging organic cotton production sector in the region. Organic cotton farmers receive higher prices for their cotton, but their practices have to conform to stringent certification requirements. In general, these requirements prohibit genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Under the “Basic Standards for Organic Production and Processing” of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural movements (IFOAM): “The use of genetically engineered organisms or their derivatives is prohibited… Organic processed products shall not use ingredients, additives or processing aids derived from GMOs.”[34] West African organic cotton farmers, therefore, could lose the organic status of their cotton if their fields are contaminated by neighbouring Bt cotton fields or if their seeds (which are currently provided by the national cotton companies) are contaminated.

West African governments are in no position to prevent contamination by managing the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops. The current regulatory situation in the region is chaotic. As this article goes to print, none of the countries in the region have put biosafety legislation into practice. Nevertheless, while no GM varieties have officially been commercialised, Burkina Faso has started field tests of GM cotton and there is a growing list of GM varieties in the pipeline for the region (see table 7). Behind closed doors, regulatory officials and scientists say that GM crops are already in their countries and some even claim to know where they are grown.

Table 6. GM crops introduced in West Africa

Monsanto Bollgard Cotton

(Field testing by SODEFITEX)

Burkina Faso
Syngenta VIP Cotton

(Field tests in two locations by INERA, SOFITEX and UNPCB)

Monsanto Bollgard II cotton

(Field tests in two locations by INERA, SOFITEX and UNPCB)

Table 7. Planned introductions of GM crops in West Africa


Resistance to cocyam root rot
JP Johnsson Biotech Laboratory

Côte d’Ivoire

Resistance to rice yellow mottle virus

Resistance to cassava mosaic virus

Modified to produce vitamin A


(Source: GRAIN; Walter Alhassan, “Agrobiotechnology Application in West and Central Africa (2002 Survey outcome)”, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture: Ibadan, Nigeria, 2003)

This is not to say that West African governments are not working towards the establishment of biosafety legislation. Most are moving to implement legislation in line with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Model Law on Biosafety of the Organisation for African Unity. Benin has even established a five-year national moratorium on the importation, commercialisation and utilisation of all GM products or products derived from GMOs to give the country time to effectively debate, develop and implement national biosafety legislation.

But these national processes are being undermined by the on-going efforts to push Bt cotton in the region. Monsanto and the national cotton company of Senegal, SODEFITEX, have already undertaken field trials of Bt cotton in the Valley of the Senegal River, without any regulatory approval or oversight. The company abandoned the trials after one year, as the Bt cotton failed to significantly reduce insect damage.[35] In Mali, a document leaked to the public in February 2004 revealed that the national agricultural research service, the IER, was in the final stages of negotiating a five-year contract with USAID, Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow Agrosciences to develop and commercialise Bt cotton. Under the proposed terms of the agreement, field trials of Bt cotton are set to begin in the 2004 cotton season. In Burkina Faso, in June 2003, the national agricultural research service, INERA, began field trials of Bt cotton, as part of a research project with Monsanto and Syngenta. The field trials commenced while the national biosafety committee, which brings together relevant government agencies and representatives of non-governmental organizations, farmers’ organisations, and industry, was still preparing national biosafety legislation. INERA chose not to formally consult with the committee and the committee has still not seen the terms of the contract agreed to by INERA, Monsanto and Syngenta.[36] It seems fairly clear that Bt cotton is being used as a Trojan horse to open West Africa completely up to GM agriculture.

c) Resistance Management? Not for West Africa

One of the major concerns with Bt cotton and other genetically modified Bt crops is that the target pests could rapidly develop resistance to the Bt toxin, leading to increased pest problems in farmers’ fields and destroying the effectiveness of Bt as an insecticide, not only in GM crops but as a natural insecticide as well.[37]

At least 26 insect pests, including cotton bollworms, are known to have the capacity to develop resistance to Bt toxins. Researchers in Australian found that cotton bollworms can rapidly develop resistance to Bt toxins: they determined that the 21st generation of a cotton bollworm population was 50 times more resistant than the first 12 generations and 300 times more resistant than a susceptible laboratory population, when the population was continuously exposed to Bt toxins. The researchers predict that resistance in the field would become a problem after 16 cotton bollworm generations, meaning 4-5 cotton seasons, if measures are not taken to prevent the development of resistance.[38] Chinese researchers came to a similar conclusion. They determined that Bollgard cotton would lose its effectiveness in seven years if cultivated in Northern China without resistance management practices.[39]

In light of these concerns, farmers in the US and Australia must adopt specific resistance management plans if they grow Bt cotton. Farmers in these countries have to leave part of their fields as a refuge, where they can only cultivate non-Bt varieties in order to maintain populations of susceptible pests. Under the US Environmental Protection Agency’s resistance management plan, farmers have to set aside 24% of their cotton crop as a refuge, and they can only treat 8% of this refuge area with insecticides.[40] Resistance management regulations are even stronger in Australia; farmers have to set aside 70% of their fields as refuge areas.

Such resistance management strategies are inappropriate and unrealistic in West Africa. The average farm in West Africa is less than 5 ha, whereas farms in the US and Australia are often on thousands of hectares. Farms in Africa are also more diverse; some farmers grow cotton alongside a number of other crops, whereas others plant their entire field to cotton, and, in some areas, small cotton fields are surrounded by other small cotton fields, creating a fairly extensive monoculture. With this farm diversity, there can be no simple one-size-fits-all strategy like that in the US or Australia.

The other major constraint is implementation. It’s one thing to develop a resistance management plan; it’s quite another to put it into practice, particularly in West Africa, where there are so many communication obstacles. Most West African farmers are illiterate; few have telephones and many don’t even have postal addresses. With the privatisation push in the region, the national cotton companies scrapped their literacy programs and they’ve made deep cuts to their extension services. The national cotton companies are currently in no position to implement resistance management plans. And there’s no reason to think that Monsanto is going to carry them out. The company has refused to take responsibility for resistance management in all the southern countries where it has introduced its Bt cotton. In India, neither the government nor Monsanto oversees the implementation of the resistance management plans they’ve drawn up.[41] In China, farmers have been growing Bt cotton without an operational resistance management plan since 1998.[42] In South Africa, Bt cotton was approved with a resistance management plan, but in practice, neither the government nor Monsanto have taken responsibility for its implementation by small farmers. Even in the US, where there is a co-ordinated management strategy with adequate financing, a recent study of Bt maize farmers found that 20% of the farmers were not following the resistance management regulations.

d) Does Bt cotton reduce fibre quality?

In the US, where Bt cotton has been cultivated since 1996, there is an on-going debate over the Bt technology’s affect on cotton fibre and quality. William Dunavant Jr, the CEO of Dunavant, one of the world’s largest cotton merchants, believes that the Bt technology is reducing the quality of American cotton. “I still believe the seed is a major, major problem and I think a lot of people agree with that,” he told participants to a 2002 national cotton conference in the US.[43] While Dunavant’s comments are not as yet backed up by scientific studies, there are farmers and researchers in the US and Australia that share his concern that GM cotton can have a negative impact on cotton quality, especially under certain environmental stresses. This is what has happened in India, where Bt cotton was commercialised in 2002. Farmers there received a lower price for Bt cotton because it was of poorer quality.[44]

5. Conclusion

There is no justification for the current efforts to push Bt cotton into West Africa. The potential advantages of Bt cotton are very limited and far outweighed by the negative consequences that it could bring to farmers in the region. Moreover, effective ways to reduce pesticide use in cotton already exist. The IPPM programme in Mali shows that farmers can reduce and even eliminate the use of pesticides in a sustainable manner without reducing yields and without relying on the expensive technologies of foreign corporations. Instead of introducing Bt cotton, it is time to ask why national cotton companies, governments, and the World Bank are not fully supporting the implementation of these pesticide reduction strategies.

Farmers are the most at risk from Bt cotton, so they must be at the centre of all decisions related to its introduction. But meaningful consultation can only take place when farmers are fully informed of the issue. Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, which all of the francophone countries of West Africa have ratified, it is the responsibility of governments to inform and consult with their people before allowing for the introduction of GMOs. Yet, in practice, the governments of the region are doing little to pursue serious consultations with farmers, who, for the most part, have still never even heard of genetic engineering. Farmers’ organisations, then, are going to have to take the lead in bringing information to their members and in developing positions on the issue. They will also need to find ways to work together at the regional level, through networks like the Réseau des Ortganisations Paysannes et Producteurs d’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA), because once a GMO is introduced in one country there is no stopping it from spreading to neighbouring countries.

Those promoting Bt cotton may try to claim that Bt cotton is a way to help farmers manage the on-going global cotton crisis. Nothing could be further from the truth. The cotton crisis is fundamentally a political problem, rooted in the structure of the global cotton market, colonial history and local and international power relations. The solution to the crisis can only be found through: the elimination of subsidies in the West that support export cotton production and reduce world market prices; the rejuvenation of local textile industries to decrease dependence on the global market; support for local and regional food crop markets; and the emergence of a regional food and agricultural system as opposed to the colonial system that continues to dominate. In other words, a complete reform of food and agriculture policy is required at the national level and at the regional level, within organisations such as the Union Économique Monétaire Ouest Africain (UEMOA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

West African farmers’ organisations are already struggling to head in this direction. But Bt cotton and other GMOs are new threats that they have to deal with. Once again West African farmers are confronted with a stark choice: either to follow the path laid out by neo-colonial interests and their destructive technologies or to take charge of their own destiny and pursue a pro-farmer agriculture that meets the needs of their people.

[1] Allan Isaacman & Richard Roberts, eds., Cotton, Colonialism, and Social History in Sub-Saharan Africa, James Currey: London, 1995.

[2] Amath Soumare, «Le Coton et l'Afrique : Subventions et Commerce», Sopel International, 16 Septembre 2003 :

[3] Mamadou Ouologuem, «Impact de la culture du coton sur l’environnement et la société au Mali», Master’s thesis in Environmental Sciences, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2003. For more information contact the author at: .

[4] Monsanto is not the only corporation currently seeking to introduce Bt cotton in West Africa. Syngenta, a Swiss pesticide company established through the merger of Zeneca and Norvartis, is alse trying to introduce a genetically modified cotton variety. But since Monsanto controls nearly 100% of the current GM cotton market, this study focuses on Monsanto’s Bt cotton varieties.

[5] Clive James, “Preview: Global Status of Transgenic Crops: 2002”, ISAAA Briefs No. 27, ISAAA: Ithaca, NY, 2002.

[6] Jeremy Greene, “How Bollgard II cotton fits,” Delta Farm Press, 6 June, 2003.

[7] Secretariat for the 61st Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee, Report on Production Practices, Cairo, Egypt October, 2002; and Leonard Gianessi et al, “Plant Biotechnology: Current and Potential Impact for Improving Pest Management In US Agriculture: An Analysis of 40 Case Studies,” National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, Washington DC, June 2002.

[8]Abdul Qayam and Kiran Sakkhari, “Did Bt Cotton Save Farmers in Warangal? A season long impact study of Bt Cotton - Kharif 2002 in Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh,” AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity and the Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad, June 2003:

[9] J Gore et al, “Bollworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Survival on ‘Bollgard’ and ‘Bollgard II’ Cotton Flower Bud and Flower Components, J. Econ. Entomol. 94 (6): 2001: vl=11035349/cl=23/nw=1/rpsv/ cw/esa/00220493/v94n6/s17/p1445

[10] Ibid.

[11] Victoria G. Meyers, “Bollgard II: The next generation,” Progressive Farmer, March 2003: farmer/magazine/article/0,14730,424267,00.html

[12] Secretariat for the 61st Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee, Report on Production Practices, Cairo, Egypt, October 2002.

[13] Abdul Qayam and Kiran Sakkhari, “Did Bt Cotton Save Farmers in Warangal? A season long impact study of Bt Cotton - Kharif 2002 in Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh,” AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity and the Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad, June 2003:

[14] Charles M. Benbrook, GMOs, “Pesticide Use and Alternatives: Lessons from the U.S. Experience,” Delivered at the Conference on GMOs and Agriculture, Paris, France,

June 20, 2003: learned.pdf

[15] Secretariat for the 61 st Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee, Report on

Production Practices, Cairo, Egypt, October 2002.

[16] Brad Haire, “Bug gang strikes Georgia cotton crop: New technology gives certain bugs opportunity to thrive,” Georgia FACES, July 31, 2003: ; Ronald Smith, Professor and Extension Entomologist Auburn University, “Stink Bugs: New Economic Pests Of Cotton” September 1994 :; MB Layton et al, “Performance of Bt Cotton in Mississippi”, 2002, Proceedings from the 2003 Beltwide Cotton Conference, CD-ROM, National Cotton Council, Memphis, TN.

[17] Bruno Michel et al, “La lutte contre les ravageurs du cotonnier au Mali : problématique et évolution récente”, Cahiers d’études et de recherches francophones / Agricultures, vol. 9, numéro 2, March –April 2000, pp. 109-115.

[18] Interview with Boubacar Sékou Soumaré, Chef de la Division Liaison – Recherche Développement, CMDT, 1 July 2003, Bamako, Mali.

[19] Interview with Abdoulaye Bamba, Director of the Agicultural Production Division, CMDT, Fana, Mali, 3 July 2003.

[20] Souleymane Coulibaly (Coordinateur Technique, GIPD-Mali), “Résultats des Champs Ecoles réalisés en 2003 par le Programme de GIPD-Mali,”

[21] PAN Africa, « Lutte contre les ravageurs, sécurité alimenaire et coton biologique au Sénégal », PAN UK : London, August 2002.

[22] Organisation Beninoise pour la Promotion de l’Agriculture Biologique, «Le coton au Bénin : rapport de consultation sur le coton conventionnel et le coton biologique au Bénin», PAN UK: London, August 2002.

[23] Helvetas-Mali, « Résultats de la recherche-action sur le coton biologique au Mali 2001 », February 2002 :

[24] Leonard et al, Plant Biotechnology: Current and Potential Impact For Improving Pest Management In U.S. Agriculture: An Analysis of 40 Case Studies, National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, June 2002; M Qaim and D Zilberman, “Yield effects of genetically modified crops in developing countries,” Science, 299, 2003, pp. 900-902; B Shankar and C Thirtle, “Pesticide Overuse and Bt Cotton,” Paper presented at the 7th ICABR conference, Ravello, June 30 – July 3, 2003; and Matin Qaim et al, “Agronomics and Sustainability of Transgenic Cotton in Argentina”, AgBioForum, July 2003.

[25] Interview with Mamoutou Togola, IER, 2 July, 2003, Sikasso, Mali.

[26] Suman Sahai and Shakeelur Rahman, Performance of Bt cotton in India: Data from the first commercial crop, Gene Campaign, India, Aug 2003:

[27] Abdul Qayam and Kiran Sakkhari, “Did Bt Cotton Save Farmers in Warangal? A season long impact study of Bt Cotton - Kharif 2002 in Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh,” AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity and the Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad, June 2003:

[28] Secretariat for the 61st Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee, Report on Production Practices, Cairo, Egypt, October 2002.

[29] Peter Shinkle, “Agriculture giant has won millions in suits against farmers”, St-Louis Post-Dispatch, 12 May 2003.

[30] International Cotton Advisory Committee, “Technology Protection Systems”, ICAC Recorder, March 1999.

[31]"Scientists Find Bt Cotton Mixed With Other Varieties”,, September 29, 2003.

[32] US Environmental Protection Agency, Bt plant-pesticides biopesticides registration action document 11C1 C. environmental assessment, 2001:

[33] Wild species from West Africa include G. anomalum anomalum, G. anomalum senarense, G. triphyllum, G. benadirense, G. bricchettii, G. trifurcatum, G. vollesenii, G. longicalyx. (Personnel Participating in Regional Research Project, "Preservation and Utilization of Germplasm in Cotton 1981-1992," Mississippi State University Southern Cooperative Series Bulletin, September 1997:

[34] “IFOAM Basic Standards for Organic Production and Processing,” approved by the IFOAM General Assembly, Victoria, Canada, August 2002:

[35] Interview with Ahmed Bachir Diop, Director General of SODEFITEX, Dakar, Senegal, 7 July 2003.

[36] Interview with Hamidou Boly, Director General of INERAB, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 28 June 2003

[37] Robin Jenkins, “Agricultural Biotechnology: a Case Study of Bt Crops,” Association Concentropique, France, April 2000.

[38] Ray Akhurst, CSIRO Entomology, “Measuring heliothis resistance to Ingard cotton”, The Australian Cotton grower, June 2002:

[39] Li-jun Ru, Jian-zhou Zhao, and Chang-hui Rui, “A simulation model for adaptation of cotton bollworm to transgenic Bt cotton in North China”, Acta Entomologia, 45(2) 2002, pp. 153-159.

[40] SVS Gopalaswamy et al, “Development of Resistance in Insects to Transgenic Plants with Bacillus thuringiensis Genes: Current Status and Management Strategies,” Resistant Pest Management Newsletter, vol. 12, no. 2, 2003.

[41] Suman Sahai and Shakeelur Rahman, Performance of Bt cotton in India: Data from the first commercial crop, Gene Campaign, India, Aug 2003:

[42] Li-jun Ru et al, “A simulation model for adaptation of cotton bollworm to transgenic Bt cotton in North China”, Acta Entomologia, 45(2) 2002, pp 153-159.

[43] Rene Pastor, “Dunavant says US cotton quality still lags, blames seeds,” Planet Ark, January 11, 2002 : 14000/newsDate/11-Jan-2002/story.htm

[44] Suman Sahai and Shakeelur Rahman, Performance of Bt cotton in India: Data from the first commercial crop, Gene Campaign, India, Aug 2003:


African scientists warn on GM cotton "invasion"

afrol News, 2 February - Agricultural researchers all over Africa urge West African nations not to give into US pressure to introduce genetically modified (GM) cotton, which could increase costs in this crucial sector. While the Malian government is about to sign a GM deal with the US industry and Burkina Faso has imported two varieties of patented GM cotton, Benin maintains sceptical.

The world's biggest agrochemical companies and the US government are rushing to introduce genetically modified (GM) crops into West Africa, starting with cotton, according to a new report from GRAIN, an international group promoting the sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity "based on people's control over genetic resources and local knowledge."

The report, published by GRAIN's Benin offices, shows that Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences - supported by the US cooperation agency USAID - are finalising plans with the Malian government to convert the West African country's cotton crop to transgenic varieties over the next five years.

Cotton is Mali's number one export and forms the backbone of the cash economy of many rural areas in the country. "Yet local farmers and the general public are in the dark about this," the GRAIN report holds.

- Bt cotton is the biotech industry's Trojan horse for bringing patented GM crops into West Africa, today says Jeanne Zoundjihékpon of GRAIN in Cotonou, Benin. "The infrastructure for cotton is well established and they want to take advantage of this."

But cotton is a critical crop for the region, the Beninese researcher adds. "It is shameful for public researchers to play with the livelihoods of their people, when the technologies they are bringing in offer nothing to farmers but greater dependence on foreign companies."

In 2003, before the country adopted any biosafety law, Burkina Faso imported two varieties of Bt cotton from the US, one from Monsanto and the other from Syngenta. Field trials are now underway at research stations of the Institut Nationale de l'Environnement et de la Recherche Agronomique in Farakoba and Kouaré.

- The same haste is now gripping Mali, the report says. Researchers with the Institut d'Economie Rurale are finalising a five-year project with USAID, Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow Agrosciences to develop and commercialise transgenic cotton.

Under the terms of the draft agreement2, Malian field tests of imported transgenic Bt cotton will begin in 2004. According to GRAIN, the plan is being negotiated without consultation with Malian cotton farmers, those most at risk from the impending conversion to GM technology.

- Just two weeks ago the Expert Group of the African Union's Scientific, Technical and Research Commission expressly recommended the need for its member states to consider a moratorium on GMO introduction, says Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety in South Africa. "But GM continues to be pushed into Africa through the back door, putting the whole continent at risk. African governments need to address this at the upcoming meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia."

In a collaborative study of the implications of Bt cotton for West Africa, GRAIN found that this is a totally inappropriate technology for the region's farmers. "Contrary to what its proponents claim, Bt cotton is not likely to reduce pesticide use and will not provide any economic advantages to farmers," the study found.

Local cotton farmers, scientists and organisations consulted for the study say it would be far more effective for public institutions to focus on supporting pesticide reduction programmes that have already proven successful and that do not depend on foreign technologies, such as the targeted application, threshold application or integrated pest and production management programmes. While these approaches reduce pesticide use by 70-100 percent, they are practiced on less than 10 percent of the cotton area of Mali.

- The limitations are not technical but financial, as the budgets for these programmes continue to be cut, GRAIN observed. "Meanwhile, the US government is promising millions of dollars to Mali if it chooses GE technology instead."

The report says that, in the West African context "there is simply no way to guarantee that transgenic cotton, once it is introduced, will not contaminate the conventional cotton supply. Already West African cotton farmers can't compete against the heavily subsidised producers in the US. The switch to GE will only make things worse."

By staff writer

© afrol News