Navigation Links
New findings in India's Bt cotton controversy: Good for the field, bad for the farm?
Date:2/7/2011

Crop yields from India's first genetically modified crop may have been overemphasized, as modest rises in crop yields may come at the expense of sustainable farm management, says a new study by a Washington University in St. Louis anthropologist.

The study, by Glenn Stone, PhD, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences, appears in the March issue of the journal World Development.

In his paper, Stone compares village yields in 2003 and 2007, which conveniently had very similar levels of rainfall. "Cotton yields rose 18 percent with the adoption of genetically modified seeds," Stone says. "This is less than what has been reported in some economics studies, but much better than activists have claimed."

Pesticide sprayings were also down by 55 percent with the switch to genetically modified seed.

The crop in question is Bt cotton, genetically modified to produce its own insecticide. Approved for Indian farmers since 2002, the technology is being closely watched because it is the most widely planted GM crop on small farms in the developing world.

Many activists and commentators, including England's Prince Charles, have accused Bt cotton of failing, ruining small farmers and causing suicides, Stone claims.

Several studies by economists, however, have shown Bt cotton farmers to be getting higher yields when compared with planters of conventional cotton.

"These economics studies have had a serious weakness," says Stone, the incoming president of the Anthropology & Environment section of the American Anthropological Association. "The adopters of the new seeds tend to be the most prosperous and well-financed farmers, who were getting better yields than other farmers even before Bt seeds were adopted. Our anthropological research project used a different strategy to assess the seeds' performance."

Stone conducted long-term research in four villages in Andhra Pradesh, India. He found that in 2003, none of the village farmers had adopted Bt seeds, but by 2007, adoption was 100 percent.

"I would love to see Bt seeds as a real solution to these farmers' insect problems, as many have claimed, but this may be a bit naive," Stone says. "Conditions in the cotton fields change quickly. Populations of insects not affected by Bt have now begun to explode. We can't forget that cotton farmers enthusiastically adopted pesticide sprays in the 1990s, only to watch them quickly lose their effectiveness."

Stone shows that the farmers' real problem was never just with cotton pests.

"Before Bt seeds appeared, these farmers had to contend with seed and spray brands and technologies that changed so quickly that the process of judicious experimentation and adoption had broken down," he says.

The technology in genetically modified seeds is already starting to change at an even faster pace than conventional seeds and pesticides.

"Looking beyond the field level to the farm level you see the real problem was a set of factors that eroded the normal process of farmer evaluation of technologies there were too many rapid, undecipherable changes," Stone says. "Each new technology hybrids, then pesticide after pesticide brought short-term gains but further eroded farm management. Bt cotton has raised yields on average, but already we are seeing erosion of benefits as non-target pest populations are booming. It has also brought a quickening of technological change and undecipherability, which is the real underlying problem."


'/>"/>

Contact: Glenn Stone
stone@wustl.edu
314-935-5239
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. September 2007 Sumatran earthquakes research findings
2. Findings uncover new details about mysterious virus
3. Nearly a century later, new findings support Warburg theory of cancer
4. New research findings may enable earlier diagnosis of uterine cancer
5. Therapeutic cloning gets a boost with new research findings
6. International climate change researchers meet, review latest findings
7. Findings show insulin -- not genes -- linked to obesity
8. FANTOM findings boost for biologists
9. New findings in taste and smell
10. SRI International announces findings from new upper atmospheric radar system for scientific research
11. USC researchers present diabetes findings at American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
New findings in India's Bt cotton controversy: Good for the field, bad for the farm?
(Date:2/1/2016)... NEW YORK , Feb. 1, 2016  Today, ... Heart Association (AHA) announced plans to develop a first ... cognitive computing power of IBM Watson. In the first ... disease, AHA, IBM (NYSE: IBM ), and Welltok ... metrics and health assessments with cognitive analytics, delivered on ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... Jan. 25, 2016  Glencoe Software, the world-leading supplier ... publication industries, will provide the data management solution OMERO ... Photo ... Phenotypic analysis measures the characteristics ... allowing comparisons between states such as health and disease, ...
(Date:1/20/2016)... --  MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical technology ... is pleased to announce the attainment of record-setting corporate ... of the company,s laser focus on (and growing international ... comprehensive, easy-to-use and highly affordable cloud-based technology platform. ... growth achievements in 2015 include: , Record ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... 2016 ASAE is introducing a hybrid membership ... (AMC) the option of joining or renewing through an ... by staff size, every employee in any size association ... reap all available member benefits.   John ... membership options will allow organizations of any size and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... 2016  Matchbook, Inc., a company specializing in ... companies, announced today the appointment of Jim ... brings nearly 25 years of experience in supply ... nearly two decades in executive level roles as ... Genzyme and, most recently headed global logistics and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 ... ... highly anticipated expansion to their comprehensive training and support program, Sonalink™ remote monitoring. ... Sonablate® HIFU procedures performed on Friday, February 5th, connecting Dr. Samuel Peretsman to ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Cenna Bioscience Inc., an emerging biopharmaceutical company focused on the ... it has been selected to present at the Cavendish Global Health Impact Forum taking ... The purpose of the Forum is to help family offices and foundations develop and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: