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Kas GMO-d päästavad vaesusest? Puuvillast Lõuna-Aafrikas

GM puuvilla kasutuselevõttu 1998.a. Lõuna-Aafrikas, Makhathini Flats piirkonnas, on esitatud kui suurt biotehnoloogia õnnestumist - väideti, et GMO-d toovad kasu väikefarmeritele ja see võiks olla väärt eeskujuks tervele Aafrika manrdile. Kuid uus analüüs jõuab järeldusele, et entusiasmiks GM tehnoloogia ümber ei ole tegelikult põhjust. Autorid väidavad, et GM puuvilla kasutuselevõtt farmerite poolt toimus peamiselt valikute vähesuse tõttu, mitte ei väljenda farmerite poolt GM tehnoloogia heakskiitmist.

Raport kummutab ka geenitehnoloogia firma Monsanto müüdi sellest, et farmerid kasvatavad GM puuvilla selle pärast, et see on saagikam. Analüüsi käigus leiti, et saak on olnud enam-vähem konstantne nii enne kui pärast GM tehnoloogia kasutuselevõttu ning GM puuvill ei ole saaki selles regioonis suurendanud.

Pestitsiidide kasutamise kohta leiti, et  kuigi pestitsiidide kasutamine puuvillamähkuri tõrjeks tõepoolestvähenes perioodil peale GM puuvilla kasutuselevõttu, teeb selle tasa sekundaarsete kahjurite tõrjeks kasutatavate pestitsiidide hulga suurenemine, mis on toimunud alates GM puuvilla kasutuselevõtust.

Uurimus on avaldatud ajakirjas Review of African PoliticalEconomy No.109.

All leiate ka inglise keeles väljavõtteid rapordist.

Link rapordi juurde:


*Can the Poor Help GM Crops? Technology, Representation & Cotton in theMakhathini Flats, South Africa*

[Extracts only]


The adoption of Genetically Modified (GM) cotton in South Africa’sMakhathini Flats in 1998 was heralded as a case in which agriculturalbiotechnology could benefit smallholder farmers, and a model for therest of the continent to follow. Using historical, political economicand ethnographic data, we find the initial enthusiasm around GMtechnology to be misguided. We argue that Makhathini’s structuredinstitutional framework privileges adopters of GM technologies throughaccess to credit and markets. The adoption of GM cotton is symptomaticnot of farmers’ endorsement of GM technology, but a sign of the profoundlack of choice facing them in the region.


We suggest that, in the light of current evidence, the considerablefavourable attention accorded the Makhathini cotton farmers isindicative not of the appropriateness of the technology, but a symptomof a development policy and life-science industry which is keen for thetechnology to succeed. We argue that the adoption of GM cotton in theMakhathini area is symptomatic not of an endorsement of GM technology,nor a step on the road to regenerating the agricultural sector, butrather a sign of the profound lack of choice facing farmers in theregion. Following Ferguson (1990), we conclude that the technology represents an anti-politics machine – offering a technological solutionto a series of political problems around differentiated access tomarkets, and access to state resources including credit, agricultural extension services


The development of cotton in Makhathini suggests that the success story of GM cotton has been ascribed a prematurely happy ending. Technical interventions, even relatively easily adaptable ones such as Bt cotton,are not inserted into a vacuum. The ecological and political economiccontexts have been shorn away from the accounts that, on balance, findgrounds for ‘cautious optimism’ in the Makhathini area. Yet the political economy of Makhathini has been consistently transformed toaccommodate the needs of cotton, despite the ongoing uncertainty aroundthe compatibility of small farms and the scale-based returns necessary to sustain modern cotton economics. The political economy of cottonproduction puts the MCC [Makhathini Cotton Company] in a position inwhich it seeks to increase its land holdings, resulting in sleight profit-sharing arrangements for some, coerced eviction for others, andwidespread indebtedness for many.
This results in the exclusion and disempowerment of the very farmers Bt
cotton is intended to empower.

Yet, the MCC remains committed to its planned expansion. We can make sense of this, despite the potential losses currently sustained by thecompany, not because of the intrinsic benefits conferred on it bygenetically modified seed, but because the company is merely the latest in a succession of large-scale development efforts in the Makhathiniregion. As with previous efforts, it is important for the developmentintervention to appear as if it is ‘benefiting the poor’. It is perhaps for this reason that the MCC has recently relaunched its website,hosting a 2005 news article from the ‘life-sciences’ industry-fundedCouncil for Biotechnology Information (Company, 2005; Council for Biotechnology Information,n.d.) in which T.J. Buthelezi claims:‘Normally, at the end of the year, I would ask my wife how we are goingto pay our bills,’ he says. ‘Now I ask her, how are we gonna spend this
money?’ Our interviews with Buthelezi, as well as with other leading cotton farmers, contradict this rather favourable scenario.

We have shown that farmers on the Makhathini Flats adopt Bt cotton not because they consider themselves to be innovative adopters of biotechnology, but because agrarian choices are severely limited. Theprincipal intervention in the bringing of GM cotton to the region has been the facilitation of access to cotton markets for local farmers.
Absent from the area has been any serious and consistent engagement by
government to offer genuine sustainable alternatives or to promote a viable model suitable to small-scale agricultural development. In this context the rhetoric of ‘GM technology helping the poor’ seems to servethe needs of the promoters of the technology, rather than the residents
of Makhathini. With the spectre of similar interventions haunting other parts of Africa, sanctioned through the ‘success’ of Makhathini, wesincerely hope that this prioritisation can be reversed.