Future of Bt cotton

17 Jul '06
2 min read

In a seminar hosted, recently, by National Academy of Agricultural Sciences and National Commission on Farmers, shareholders discussed the future of cotton in the country under the theme 'What Should be India's Cotton Agenda', based on study conducted by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

CSE in a study on 'The Fabric of Cotton: Seeds, Farmers and Textiles', found that though American cotton varieties had higher productivity, its cultivation was not sustainable in India owing to lack of agro-climatic compatibility.

Study analyzed that the Indian cotton varieties gave the same level of yield for 30 years whereas American variety has led to frequent crop failures and brought in numerous diseases and even required at least three times more water and other inputs and the yield plummeted after three years.

When American varieties of cotton began to be cultivated in the country, the American bollworm, the notorious pest on the cotton crop had also found its way into Indian cotton fields.

Since machines to gin and spin Indian cotton were not readily available the long-staple American cotton varieties are popular in the country, the study said.

Bt cotton hybrids were introduced in the country to resist attacks by the American bollworm but the study noted that the Bt cotton hybrids were not suited in the rain fed areas of the country.

Study embarks as to why the Bt technology was not tried on Indian traditional varieties of cotton that were more suited to local climatic conditions.

It also stressed the need for lowering the production cost of cotton in global trade as highly subsidized American cotton can enter India in a big way.

CSE sources revealed that talks with all stakeholders would continue so as to reach appropriate conclusion about the cotton issue.

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