The Role of Biotechnology in Sustainable Agriculture of the Twenty-First Century: The Commercial Introduction of Bollgard II in Burkina Faso

  • Jeff VitaleEmail author
  • John Greenplate
Part of the Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry book series (AGRICULTURE, volume 67)


In the broader context of West African cotton production, we present empirical evidence of how Bt cotton has impacted the Burkina Faso cotton industry based on household surveys that encompass the first 3 years of commercial production, 2009 through 2011. The surveys document the impact of Bt cotton on household income, production costs, pesticide use, and associated health issues. Briefly, over 3 years, a mean yield increase of 22 % was observed with Bt cotton over conventional cotton with a reduction of insect sprays by at least two-thirds, resulting in significantly reduced human pesticide exposure. Roughly equivalent production costs enabled growers to retain the value of the extra yields, which led to mean income benefits of about $65 per ha and contributed heavily to a national level economic benefit of approximately $53 million over the 3 years surveyed. These data are discussed in the context of West African cotton production, its history, current issues, and potential sustainability.


Cotton Production Cotton Yield Cotton Lint Pesticide Poisoning Yield Advantage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Abate T, Van Huis A, Ampofo J (2000) Pest management strategies in traditional agriculture: an African perspective. Ann Rev Entomol 45:631–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ajayi OC, Waibel H (2003) Economic costs of occupational human health of pesticides among agricultural households in Africa. Paper presented at the conference on Technological and Institutional Innovations for Sustainable Development Gottingen, Germany, October 2003Google Scholar
  3. Antle JM, Pingali PL (1994) Pesticides, productivity, and farmer health: a Philippine case study. Am J Agric Econ 76:418–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aronson AL, Beckman W, Dunn P (1986) Bacillus thuringiensis and related insect pathogens. Microbiol Rev 50:1–24PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Badarou S, Coppieters Y (2009) Intoxications alimentaires dues l’endosulfan: mise en place d’un systeme de notification et de prise en charge au Benin. Environnement Risques and Santé 8(2):133–136Google Scholar
  6. Bennett R, Ismael Y, Kambhampati U, Morse S (2004) Economic impact of genetically modified cotton in India. Agbioforum 7(3):1–5Google Scholar
  7. Bennett R, Morse S, Ismael Y (2006) The economic impact of genetically modified cotton on South African smallholders: yield, profit and health effects. J Dev Stud 42(4):662–677CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Banwo O, Adamu R (2003) Insect pest management in African agriculture: challenges in the current millennium. Arch Phytopathol Plant Prot 36:59–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bassett T (2001) The peasant cotton revolution in West Africa Cote D’Ivoire, 1880–1995. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  10. Baquedano F, Sanders J, Vitale J (2010) Increasing incomes of Malian cotton farmers: is elimination of US subsidies the only solution? Agric Syst 103(7):418–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bingen R (1998) Cotton, democracy and development in Mali. J Mod Afr Stud 36(2):265–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Borlaug NE (2000) Ending world hunger: the promise of biotechnology and the threat of antiscience zealotry. Plant Physiol 124(2):487–490PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Boserup E (1965) The conditions of agricultural growth: the economics of agrarian change under population pressure. Allen & Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. CARITAS (2004) Unfair trade and cotton: global challenges, local challenges. A CARITAS-CISDE ReportGoogle Scholar
  15. Christiaensen L, Demery L (2006) Down to earth: agriculture and poverty reduction in Africa. The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  16. Cohen J, Paarlberg R (2002) Explaining restricted approval and availability of GM crops in developing countries. AgBiotechNet (4):ABN 097.
  17. Coleman P (2012) Guide for organic crop producers. USDA National Organic Program.
  18. Conway G (1997) The doubly green revolution: food for all in the twenty-first century. Comstock, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  19. De Janvry A, Fafchamps M, Sadoulet E (1991) Peasant household behaviour with missing markets: some paradoxes explained. Econ J 101(409):1400–1417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Drafor I (2003) Pesticide use and consumer and worker safety: experiences from Kenya and Ghana. Paper presented at the 25th international agricultural economics conference, Durban, South Africa, August 2003Google Scholar
  21. Ejeta G (2010) African green revolution needn’t be a mirage. Science 327:831–832PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Elbehri A, MacDonald S (2004) Estimating the impact of transgenic Bt cotton on West and Central Africa: a general equilibrium approach. World Dev 32:2049–2064CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (2011) FAOSTAT-Crops. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy. Cited 12 Jan 2013
  24. Glin LJ, Kuiseau J, Thiam A, Vodouhe DS, Dinham B, Ferrigno S (2006) Living with poison: problems of endosulfan in West Africa cotton growing systems. Pesticide Action Network, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  25. Goldberger J, Merrill J, Hurley T (2005) Bt corn farmer compliance with insect resistance management requirements in Minnesota and Wisconsin. AgBioForum 8(2&3):151–160, Google Scholar
  26. Goreux L (2003) Reforming the cotton sector in sub-Saharan Africa, 2nd edn. World Bank Africa Region Working Paper Series No. 62, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  27. Gouse M, Kirsten J, Jenkins L (2003) Bt cotton in South Africa: adoption and the impact on farm incomes amongst small-scale and large scale farmers. Agrekon 42:15–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gouse M, Pray C, Schimmelpfennig D (2004) The distribution of benefits from Bt cotton adoption in South Africa. AgBioForum 7(4):187–194, Google Scholar
  29. Goze E, Nibouche S, Deguine J (2003) Spatial and probability distribution of Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in cotton: systematic sampling, exact confidence intervals and sequential test. Environ Entomol 32(5):1203–1210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Greenplate J, Mullins J, Penn S, Dahm A, Reich B, Osborn J, Rahn P, Ruschke L, Shappley ZW (2003) Partial characterization of cotton plants expressing two toxin proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis: relative contribution, toxin interaction, and resistance management. J Appl Entomol 127:340–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hema O, Some HN, Traore O, Greenplate J, Abdennadher M (2009) Efficacy of transgenic cotton plant containing the Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab genes of Bacillus thuringiensis against Helicoverpa armigera and Syllepte derogate in cotton cultivation in Burkina Faso. Crop Prot 28:205–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hofs J, Hau B, Pannatier C, Vaissayre M, Fok M, Kunert A, Schoeman A, Kirsten J, Van Rooyen G, Chevre A et al (2006) Conséquences écologiques et agro-économiques de l’introduction de cotonniers transgéniques dans un agrosystème tropical: Le cas du Coton Bt chez les petits paysans des Makhathini Flats (Afrique du Sud). Organismes génétiquement modifiés: Aspects socio-économiques, alimentaires et environnementaux. Premier séminaire de restitution du Programme ANR-OGM, Paris, France, 14–15 DecemberGoogle Scholar
  33. Hofte H, Whiteley HR (1989) Insecticidal crystal proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis. Microbiol Rev 53:242–255PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Huang J, Hu R, Fan C, Pray C, Rozelle S (2002) Bt cotton benefits, costs, and impacts in China. AgBioForum 5:153–166Google Scholar
  35. Huang J, Hu R, Pray C, Qiao F, Rozelle S (2003) Biotechnology as an alternative to chemical pesticides: a case study of Bt cotton in China. Agric Econ 29:55–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Huesing J, English L (2004) The impact of Bt crops on the developing world. AgBioForum 7(1–2):84–95, Google Scholar
  37. Hulme P (2005) Adapting to climate change: is there scope for ecological management in the face of a global threat? J Appl Ecol 42:784–794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. InterAcademy Council (2004) Realizing the promise and potential of African agriculture: science and technology strategies for improving agricultural productivity and food security in Africa. The InterAcademy Council, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  39. International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) (2006) Cotton: Rev World Situation 58:2Google Scholar
  40. Ismael Y, Bennett R, Morse S (2001) Farm level impact of Bt cotton in South Africa. Biotechnol Dev Monit 48:15–19.Google Scholar
  41. James C (2006) Global status of biotech crops in 2006 (ISAAA Brief No. 35). International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  42. James C (2009) Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops: 2009. ISAAA Brief No. 41. ISAAA, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  43. James C (2011) Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops: 2011. ISAAA Brief No. 43. ISAAA, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  44. Jones PG, Thornton PK (2003) The potential impacts of climate change on maize production in Africa and Latin America in 2055. Glob Environ Change 13(1):51–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kay R, Edwards W, Duffy P (2006) Farm management. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Khush GS (1999) Green revolution: preparing for the 21st century. Genome 42:646–655PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kirsten J, Gouse M (2003) The adoption and impact of agricultural biotechnology in South Africa. In: Kalaitzandonakes N (ed) The economic and environmental impacts of agbiotech: a global perspective. Kluwer Academic/Plenum, New York, pp 243–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kodjo EA (2007) ANCE fights for the prohibition of the use of Endosulfan in Togo. International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN). Available on the World Wide Web: Accessed 9 Aug 2013
  49. Lele U, Adu-Nyaka K (1992) Approaches to uprooting poverty in Africa. Food Policy 2:95–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Liang GH, Skinner DZ (eds) (2004) Genetically modified crops, their development, uses and risks. Haworth, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  51. Marra M (2001) The farm level impacts of transgenic crops: a critical review of the evidence. In: Pardey PG (ed) The future if food: biotechnology markets in an international setting. Johns Hopkins Press and International Food Policy Research Institute, Baltimore, CA, pp 155–184.Google Scholar
  52. MacIntosh SC, Stone TB, Sims SR, Hunst PL, Greenplate JT, Marrone PG, Perlak FJ, Fischhoff DA, Fuchs RL (1990) Specificity and efficacy of purified Bacillus thuringiensis proteins against agronomically important insects. J Invertebr Pathol 56:258–266PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Martin T, Chandre O, Vaissayre M, Fournier D (2002) Pyrethroid resistance mechanisms in the cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) from West Africa. Pestic Biochem Phys 74(1):17–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Maumbe BM, Swinton SM (2003) Hidden health costs of pesticides use in Zimbabwe’s smallholder cotton growers. Soc Sci Med 57:1559–1571PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. McMillian D, Sanders J, Koenig D, Akwabi-Ameyaw K, Painter T (1998) New land is not enough: agricultural performance of new lands settlement in West Africa. World Dev 26(2):18Google Scholar
  56. Morse S, Bennett R, Ismael Y (2005) Genetically modified insect resistance in cotton: some farm level economic impacts in India. Crop Prot 24:433–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Oerke EC (2002) Crop losses due to pests in major crops. In: Crop protection compendium 2002: Economic impact. CAB, Wallingford, UKGoogle Scholar
  58. Oerke C (2005) Centenary review crop losses to pests. J Agric Sci 144:31–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Oerke C, Dehne H, Schönbeck F, Weber A (1999) Crop production and crop protection; estimated crop losses in major food and cash crops. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  60. Orphal J (2005) Comparative analysis of the economics of Bt and non-Bt cotton production. Special Issue Publication Series No 8. The Pesticide Policy Project, Hannover, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  61. Paarlberg R (2001) The politics of precaution: genetically modified crops in developing countries. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MDGoogle Scholar
  62. Paarlberg R (2008) Starved for science, how biotechnology is being kept out of Africa. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  63. Paarlberg D, Paarlberg P (2000) The agricultural revolution of the 20th Century. Iowa State University Press, Ames, IAGoogle Scholar
  64. Pemsl D, Waibel H, Orphal J (2004) A methodology to assess the profitability of Bt cotton: case study results from the state of Karnataka, India. Crop Prot 23(12):1249–1257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Perlak FJ, Deaton RW, Armstrong TA, Fuchs RL, Sims SR, Greenplate JT, Fischhoff DA (1990) Insect resistant cotton plants. Bio-Technology 8:939–943PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Pimentel D (1993) Climate changes and food supply. Forum Appl Res Public Policy 8(4):54–60Google Scholar
  67. Pimentel (1999) Environmental and economic benefits of sustainable agriculture. In: Sustainability in question book series. Advances in ecological economics. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 153–170Google Scholar
  68. Pingali PL (2012) Green revolution: impacts, limits, and the path ahead. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(31):12302–12308PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Programme Coton (1999) Résultats préliminaires des activités de recherche. Rapport campagne 1998-1999, 77Google Scholar
  70. Purcell JP, Perlak FJ (2004) Global impact of insect-resistant (bt) cotton. AgBioForum 7(1&2):27–30Google Scholar
  71. Qaim M (2003) Bt cotton in India: field trial results and economic projections. World Dev 31:2115–2127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Qaim M, De Janvry A (2003) Genetically modified crops, corporate pricing strategies, and farmers’ adoption: the case of Bt cotton in Argentina. Am J Agric Econ 85(4):814–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Qaim M, De Janvry A (2005) Bt cotton and pesticide use in Argentina: economic and environmental effects. Environ Dev Econ 10:179–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Raul C (2001) Bitter to better harvest. Post Green Revolution Northern Book Centre, New Delhi, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  75. Roberts R (1996) Two worlds of cotton: colonialism and the regional economy in the French Soudan, 1800-1946. Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, CAGoogle Scholar
  76. Sanders JH, Ramaswamy S, Shapiro BI (1996) The economics of agricultural technology in semi-arid Sub-Saharan Africa. Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, MDGoogle Scholar
  77. Shankar B, Thirtle C (2005) Pesticide productivity and transgenic cotton technology: the South African smallholder case. J Agric Econ 56:97–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Sims SR (1997) Host activity spectrum of the Cry2A Bacillus thuringiensis susb. kurstaki protein: effects on Lepidoptera, Diptera, and non-target arthropods. Southwest Entomol 22:395–404Google Scholar
  79. Smale M, Zambrano P, Cartel M (2006) Bales and balance: a review of methods used to assess the economic impact of Bt cotton on farmers in developing economies. AgBioForum 9(3):195–212, Google Scholar
  80. Spielman DJ (2007) Pro-poor agricultural biotechnology: can the international research system deliver the goods? Food Policy 32:189–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Tefft J (2004) Building on successes in African agriculture. Mali’s white revolution: smallholder cotton from 1960 to 2003. International Food Policy Research Institute Policy Brief April, 2004, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  82. Toe A (2003) Limites maximales de résidus de pesticides dans les produits agricoles d’exportation dans trois pays du CILSS-Etude du Burkina Faso FAO/CILLS, Rapports Techniques, Projet Gestion des pesticides au Sahel. Bamako, MaliGoogle Scholar
  83. Toenniessen G, Adesina A, DeVries J (2008) Building an alliance for a green revolution in Africa. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1136:233–242PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Traoré D, Héma O, Ilboudo O (1998) Entomologie et expérimentation phytosanitaire. Rapport annuel campagne agricole 1998-1999, pp 120–179Google Scholar
  85. Traoré O, Sanfo D, Traoré K, Koulibaly B (2006) The Effect of Bt gene on cotton productivity, ginning rate and fiber characteristics under Burkina Faso cropping conditions. (Working Paper) Bobo Dialasso, Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Burkina FasoGoogle Scholar
  86. UNDP (2011) Human development report 2011 sustainability and equity: a better future for all United Nations Development Programme. New YorkGoogle Scholar
  87. UNIDO (2011) Agribusiness for Africa’s prosperity. United Nations Industrial Development Organization, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  88. United Nations (2000) United Nations Millennium Declaration.
  89. Vaissayre M, Cauquil J (2000) Principaux ravageurs et maladies du cotonnier en Afrique au Sud du Sahara. CIRAD, CTA-ISBN 2-87614-415-8, 60 pGoogle Scholar
  90. Vitale J, Glick H, Greenplate J, Abdennadher M, Traore O (2008) Second-generation Bt cotton field trials in Burkina Faso: analyzing the potential benefits to West African farmers. Crop Sci 48:1958–1966CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Vitale JD, Vognan G, Ouattarra M, Traore O (2010) The commercial application of GMO crops in Africa: Burkina Faso’s decade of experience with Bt cotton. AgBioForum 13(4):320–332Google Scholar
  92. Vitale J, Ouattarra M, Vognan G (2011) Enhancing sustainability of cotton production systems in West Africa: a summary of empirical evidence from Burkina Faso. Sustainability 3:1136–1169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Vitale J, Greenplate J (2013) Genetically modified cotton. In: Smyth S, Castle D, Phillips P (eds) Handbook on agriculture, biotechnology and development, Chap 37. Edward Elgar, CamberleyGoogle Scholar
  94. Vognan G, Ouédraogo M, Ouédraogo S (2002) Description de la filière cotonnière au Burkina Faso. Rapport intermédiaire [Description of the cotton system in the Burkina Faso region. Intermediary report]. Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Bobo Dialasso, Burkina FasoGoogle Scholar
  95. Willams MR (2010) Cotton insect losses. In: Richter DA (ed) Proceedings of the 2010 Beltwide Cotton Conferences. National Cotton Council of America, Memphis, TN, pp 1030–1073Google Scholar
  96. World Bank (2007) Development and the next generation (World Development Report). Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  97. World Bank (2008) Agriculture for development (World Development Report). Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  98. World Bank (2009) Agribusiness and innovation systems in Africa (World Development Report). Washington, DCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural EconomicsOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  2. 2.MonsantoSaint LouisUSA

Personalised recommendations