(Photo: Farmers planted 440K hectares of cotton last season, but a relevant part of the area could have been planted with non-authorized traits)

Buenos Aires, September 30th. Cotton is a traditional crop in Argentina but confined to the north of the country, traditionally carried out by small farmers that used to hand-pick the balls and without access to the latest technologies.

But after years of decadence, the crop is living a renaissance, with a strong harvest mechanization process, and carried out by larger farmers. In fact, 200 of them plant 85% of the total area.

After touched a floor of 253,000 hectares in the 2016/17 campaign, the area jumped to 327,000 in the next and 441,000 hectares in this latest 2018/19 campaign.

Meanwhile, this turn in the evolving of the crop was accompanied by the use of illegal biotechnologies. In October 2018 the National Seed Institute (INASE) stated that they had discovered GMO seed from non-authorized traits in its inspection to delinting and ginning plants.

The institute didn’t say what illegal traits were found, but everybody knew that most of them belong to the Bollgard II technology, also known as Cotton Flex. In fact, the term “flex” popularized as “illegal” seed, no matter what kind of trait it involves.

There are two versions of how this illegal seed entered the country. One says that the traits arrived from Brazil, and Paraguay. The other says that former Monsanto was ready to launch the technology in the country, with the approval of regulatory authorities, but because the legal framework didn’t satisfy the company, Monsanto withdrew the petition to the commercial release. But as Bollgard 2 was previously distributed to farmers to testing it, it’s probable that the seed started to circulate between farmers in the subsequent campaigns.

After the recognition of the presence of the illegal seed by the INASE, some media appointed that between 30 to 50% of the national cotton área could be planted with “Flex” technology.

The illegal seed found last year should have been destroyed, or at least removed from the commercial circuit.
The INASE warned farmers about the illegal use of these seeds, and that they were going to continue with the inspections.

The point is that in the beginning of this new campaign 2019/20, farmers asked the national ministry of Agriculture authorities to continue planting the Flex seed, arguing that if they not, the cotton area could down this year.
It’s necessary says that INASE never published which was the illegal traits found and that farmers talk about “contamination” with “Flex” technology.

Both the INASE and the ministry of Agriculture denied such possibility, saying that they went going to continue with the inspection to detect non-legal traits, but on the other hand, and despite the unique seed supplier in the country (Gensus) assured that there will not lack of seed this season, the INASE authorized the use of “identified” seed, i.e., seed in the hands of farmers, that they will able to plant after identifying that the seed does not contain illegal traits and with the authorization of the owner of the germplasm.

But, what about the owners of the technology? Why did they say nothing about this issue?

From eFarmNewsAr.com we talked with sources in Bayer, the new owner of Monsanto. They said that they celebrate the commitment of INASE with the control and inspection of the cottonseed commerce, adding that they trust if the INASE detect illegal traits of germplasm, it will take the adequate measures and it will notify to the owners of the technologies or germplasm, who could take the correspondent actions.

It could be something unusual that, if the INASE was supplied by the owners with the gen-check to detect the trait, the institute didn’t communicate the finding to the owners.But sources from the INASE confirmed that the institute didn’t inform the companies the results of the inspections.

“We believe that companies owners of the technologies should be informed to involve in this issue, because illegal market is problema of all”, a third party said to eFarmNewsAr.