|04 October 2002
THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
RE: BT COTTON IN INDIA FACES SERIOUS PROBLEMS
More and more reports are coming out of India on the failure of the Bt cotton crop in parts of the country. It is estimated that thousands of hectares of Bt cotton have been destroyed due to root-rot as a result of either water logging or drought, conditions that make Bt cotton vulnerable. The affected districts include those in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
According to some environmentalists, the disaster is partly due to the fact that the Bt cotton introduced to India was selected for the wrong Bt genes that were developed in North America and brought to India which seemed to be more susceptible to the root-rot disease and that is also not suitable to local conditions. Similar incidences have occurred in the US with regards to GM cotton. Some US farmers have reported in 1998 that their GM cotton faced deformity such as in the roots or have low yields.
From the economic point of view, farmers who are hoping to raise their incomes from Bt cotton are also being disappointed. According to some scientists (see Part 1), the total cost of seeds and pesticides is double in the case of Bt cotton compared to existing seeds. Following the damage suffered by the Bt cotton growers, many have begun to demand compensation for their ruined crops (see Part 2).
What is currently being experienced in India is symptomatic of the many problems that farmers elsewhere have experienced with Bt crops. As the article below (Part 3) points out, there are drawbacks associated with Bt crops, evidence of which points to negative impacts on non-target species (including beneficial species), as well as the development of resistance in target pest populations and the toxicity and allergenicity of Bt toxins themselves. The claimed benefits of Bt crops in terms of pest control and financial gains are also in question.
With such mounting evidence against Bt crops from the environmental, health, economic and social perspective, it is timely that any attempts to promote Bt crops be urgently and seriously reconsidered.
With best wishes,
Lim Li Lin and Chee Yoke Heong
Third World Network
121-S Jalan Utama