Fly in the face of Bt cotton

May 10, 2016 0 Comments

May 7: India grows 95 per cent of its cotton from genetically modified hybrid seeds, which have proved defenceless against pests and weather change, leading to devastating losses

Cotton has been cultivated for over 5,000 years in India and traded for nearly as long. Today, more than 95 per cent of the cotton grown in the country comes from a foreign stock — the genetically modified (GM) hybrids of Bt cotton, which have proved defenceless against weather change and insect attacks year after year. Spurious insecticides have added to the cultivator’s woes.

Crop failures in the cotton-growing belt had, at the beginning of the year, provoked the Union government to set price controls on Bt cotton seeds. This saw shares of Monsanto, which sells patented GM cotton seeds, lose more than 20 per cent of their value. The company threatened to leave India if prices were capped, and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjiv Balyan was quoted as saying it was free to go.