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Statement from 67th Plenary Session of ICAC at Burkina Faso
21
Nov '08
The International Cotton Advisory Committee met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso during November 17-21, 2008 for its 67th Plenary Meeting since 1939. Four hundred twenty nine people participated in the meeting, including representatives from 35 governments and 9 international organizations.

1. Declines in Cotton Production and Mill Use are forecast:
The Committee accepted a report from the Secretariat that it projects that world cotton mill use will decline in 2008/09 for the first time in a decade. Slower global economic growth and competition with chemical fibers are affecting demand for cotton products. World cotton production is also declining this season, and the Secretariat projects that production will be less than consumption, resulting in a decline in world ending stocks.

Despite a tightening of stocks and the rising cost of production, data from the first part of the current season indicate that average cotton prices will fall from the average level of last season. The Secretariat reported that average cotton prices during 2007/08 were higher than market fundamentals suggested they should have been, indicating that increased speculation in cotton futures by companies and individuals not directly involved in the cotton industry and rising prices of other commodities may have influenced cotton prices last season.

The Secretariat also noted that there is greater uncertainty about commodity prices and the outlook for the world economy than is usual for this time of year. The Secretariat reported that each price forecast includes a confidence interval based on statistical relationships. The Secretariat urged all market participants to be mindful of this interval when interpreting price forecasts.

2. Biotechnology Transforming the World Cotton Industry:
The Committee was informed that cotton varieties developed with the application of biotechnology (biotech, transgenic, bioengineered, genetically modified cotton) accounted for more than half of world production last season and that the biotech proportion continues to grow. Burkina Faso itself is successfully harvesting 10,000 hectares of biotech cotton this season. It was reported that India, with the largest area devoted to cotton in the world, is headed toward an unprecedented sixth consecutive season of increased production after the introduction of biotech varieties in 2002.

The Committee was informed that the rapid adoption of biotechnology by farmers since commercial introduction in 1996 indicates that farmers perceive substantial benefits from the use of the technology. The Committee was informed that almost all scientists agree that the technology is safe, and that there is no empirical evidence of consumer rejection of biotech cotton lint. It was noted that the protein produced by Bt cotton that is toxic to certain insects is the same protein that was isolated by scientists from bacteria in the 1950s and is used as a bio-insecticide approved for use in organic production systems.

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