Bt cotton seed purity in Burkina Faso: status and lessons learnt

[BackgroundSince the commercial release of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso in 2009, the issue of seed purity in producers’ fields has rarely been addressed in an unbiased and objective manner. The potential for contamination of conventional seed varieties with Bt traits and the consequent threat to the continuation of organic cotton production has been documented. However, studies are rare on the varietal purity of Bt cotton seeds, despite the implications for the effectiveness and sustainability of their use.

This paper compensates for the lack of research on the varietal purity of cotton seeds in Burkina Faso by reporting the results of Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay tests collected in 2015 on samples of both conventional and Bt varieties from 646 fields.

[Results] According to the conservative criteria used to declare the presence of a Bt gene in a given variety (more than 10% of seeds of conventional variety exhibit Bt traits, and at least 90% of seeds of Bt variety exhibit Bt traits), seed purity was very questionable for both types of variety. For the supposedly conventional variety, the Cry1Ac gene was observed in 63.6% of samples, the Cry2Ab gene was observed in 59.3% of samples, and both genes were detected in 52.2% of the seed samples. Only 29.3% of the seeds that were supposed to be of conventional type contained no Bt genes. Conversely, for the labeled Bt variety, the Cry1Ac gene was found in only 59.6% of samples, the Cry2Ab gene was found in 53.6% of the samples, and both genes were found in 40.4% of the samples. Finally, for the seeds that were supposed to contain both genes (Bollguard 2), both Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab genes were found in only 40.4% of the samples, only one of the genes was found in 32.4% of the samples, and 27.2% of the seeds in the samples contained neither.

Two factors are responsible for the severe lack of seed purity. First, conventional varieties are being contaminated with Bt traits because of a failure to revise the seed production scheme in Burkina Faso to prevent cross-pollination. Second, the original Bt seeds provided to Burkina Faso lacked varietal purity.

The organic sector plays a very minor role in the cotton sector of Burkina Faso (production of organic cotton totaled 453 t in 2018/2019, out of national cotton production of 183 000 t). Nevertheless, the lack of purity in conventional seed varieties is a threat to efforts to expand certified organic cotton production. The poor presence of Bt proteins in supposed Bt varieties undermines their effectiveness in controlling pests and increases the likelihood of the development of resistance among pest populations.

[Conclusion] Our results show the extent of purity loss when inadequate attention is paid to the preservation of seed purity. Pure conventional seeds could vanish in Burkina Faso, while Bt seeds do not carry the combination of the expected Bt traits. Any country wishing to embark on the use of Bt cotton, or to resume its use, as in the case of Burkina Faso, must first adjust its national seed production scheme to ensure that procedures to preserve varietal purity are enforced. The preservation of varietal purity is necessary to enable the launch or the continuation of identity-cotton production. In addition, the preservation of varietal purity is necessary to ensure the sustainable effectiveness of Bt cotton. In order to ensure that procedures to preserve varietal purity are observed, seed purity must be tested regularly, and test results must be published.


[Title] Bt cotton seed purity in Burkina Faso: status and lessons learnt

[Authors] BOURGOU Larbouga, KARGOUGOU Ester, SAWADOGO Mahamadou and FOK Michel

Journal of Cotton Research 2020, 330

https://doi.org/10.1186/s42397-020-00070-4

Seventh ‘Asian Cotton Research and Development Network’ Meeting, 15-17 Sept 2017, Nagpur India.

The Seventh Meeting of the Asian Cotton Research and Development Network was held at Nagpur during 15-17 September 2017. The Indian Society for Cotton Improvement (ISCI), Mumbai hosted the meeting together with the ICAR-CICR (Central Institute for Cotton Research), Nagpur and ICAR-CIRCOT (Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technologies). The main theme of the meeting was PRODUCING QUALITY FIBRE & DOUBLING COTTON FARMERS INCOME. Cotton researchers from public and the private sector participated. Dr. C. D. Mayee, President, Indian Society for Cotton Improvement, was the chairman, of the organizing Committee. The meeting elected Dr. Prashant G. Patil as Chairman of the Network until the next meeting. Eminent cotton experts i.e., Dr. Timorthy Dennehy, Dr Judith Brown, Dr Albert Santos from US; Dr Derek Russell from Australia, Dr Negm from Egypt and several senior research leaders from India and Bangladesh attended the meeting. The proceedings, recommendations, presentations and abstracts of the meeting can be accessed here.

Seventh Meeting of the ACRDN

Proceedings are available

The Seventh Meeting of the Asian Cotton Research and Development Network was held at Nagpur, India during 15-17 September 2017. The Indian Society for Cotton Improvement (ISCI), Mumbai hosted the meeting together with the ICAR-CICR (Central Institute for Cotton Research), Nagpur and ICAR-CIRCOT (Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technologies).

The main theme of the meeting was  “PRODUCING QUALITY FIBRE & DOUBLING COTTON FARMERS INCOME.” Cotton researchers from public and the private sector participated. Dr. C.D. Mayee, President, Indian Society for Cotton Improvement, was the Chairman of the Organizing Committee. The meeting elected Dr. Prashant G. Patil as Chairman of the Network until the next meeting. Eminent cotton experts like Dr. Timorthy Dennehy, Dr Judith Brown, Dr Albert Santos from US; Dr Derek Russell from Australia; Dr Negm from Egypt and several senior research leaders from India and Bangladesh attended the meeting.

The proceedings, recommendations, presentations and abstracts of the meeting are now available at the ICAC website.

Cotton as illustration of women’s capability

Topical issue of women’s performance in agriculture

Given the phenomenon of the feminization of agriculture in many countries, particularly where the economic development is attracting men out of agriculture, the issue of the performance of feminized agriculture has gained topical importance. The phenomenon of feminization is even observed with some concern because women’s performance used to be reported low.

Gender comparison of performance used to be biased

The observed performance of women has been frequently lower to that of men, but it is not because they are women, but because they do not produce similarly to men. Particularly, women used to have less, if not much less access to production factors.

Scientific literature has provided sufficient evidence about the issue of access and many international organizations (FAO, the World Bank…) have been advocating to improve the access to production factors by women, as a means to improve the performance of the whole agricultural sector.

The current international advocacy lies on the assumption that when women have improved access to production factors, the increase of their performance will result. Such a phenomenon has nevertheless seldom be observed and assessed.

A paper very recently available online is compensating for the lack of evidence mentioned above. Download of free full text is still possible up to the number of downloads allocated to the authors; so it’s first asking, first served. At the time of publishing this post, there were 38 eprints remaining.

Cotton Research enters to a period of “golden” opportunities

With the recent completion of draft sequencing of diploid cotton Gossypium raimondii and G. arboreum genomes published in Nature Genetics, and the first “gold-standard” version of G. raimondii genome published in Nature, cotton research community enjoyed the pick of many seminal research results that have provided a glorious opportunity to study orthologous and paralogous genes and gene families in allotetraploid cotton.

These successes and great achievements in ancestral diploid genome sequencing further resulted in decoding of the representative genome of widely grown allotetraploid Upland (G. hirsutum L.) cotton, Texas Marker-1.

Two independent research papers published in Nature Biotechnology by Zhang et al. and Li et al. in this week issue described the complex allotetraploid TM-1 genome that further entered cotton research to an era of “golden” opportunities providing the first insights into allotetraploid cotton genome structure, genome rearrangements, gene evolution, cotton fiber biology and biotechnology that will help to rapidly translate the genomics “knowledge” to an “economic impact”!

Congratulation to all cotton community with these latest achievements, high impact journal seminal publications, and hard work to foster cotton research!