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

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."


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

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