Agri Business

Bt Cotton provides sustainable benefits: Study

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 18, 2012

Genetically modified cotton or Bt cotton has created large and sustainable benefits, which contribute to positive economic and social development in India.

Adoption of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton technology has caused a 24 per cent increase (126 kg) in cotton yield per acre. This is through reduced pest damage and a 50 per cent gain (Rs 1877 per acre) in cotton profit among smallholders. These benefits are stable, a scientific study by researchers based in Germany has claimed.

Consumption expenditures

The adoption of Bt cotton has raised consumption expenditures, a common measure of household living standard, by 18 per cent during the period 2006-2008. These are some of the conclusions of the study on the ‘Economic impact and impact dynamics of Bt cotton in India,’ accessible through PNAS (Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, US).

The data analysed by the researchers Jonas Kathage and Matin Qaim of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Georg-August-University of Goettingen, Germany, pans the period of 2002 to 2008.

Controversies continue

The authors say despite widespread adoption of GM crops in many countries, controversies over their advantages and disadvantages, continue. Civil society groups tend to emphasise potential risks of GM crops and question reports about their agronomic and economic effects. There are also widespread concerns that GM crops fail to benefit smallholder farmer.

The India-focussed survey covered four States — Maharastra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. A total of 10 different districts and 63 villages were surveyed in four waves between 2002-2008. It involved 533 farm households.

The study said during 2006-08, each acre of Bt increased household consumption by Rs 2,826 a year. By multiplying with the mean Bt area of adopting farmers, households increased annual consumption expenditures by Rs 15,841 on average, and this turns out to be around 18 per cent increase.

Cotton is primarily grown by smallholder farmers with farm sizes of less than 15 acres and cotton holdings of 3-4 acres on average. The first Bt cotton hybrids were commercially released in 2002. By 2011, about 7 million farmers had adopted Bt on 26 million acres, which they said was around 90 per cent of the total cotton area. In 2002 there were three Bt hybrids, but by the end of 2011, the number of commercial Bt varieties and hybrids increased to over 880 globally.

Published on July 18, 2012
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