NOTE: Although this study has been hyped as showing the great success of Bt cotton, which has a built-in pesticide, the headline here picks up on a highly revealing finding:
"The reduction in the number of sprays [for Bt cotton farmers] has been accompanied by an increased quantity of pesticides being injected in each round. As a result, the total quantum sprayed per hectare has not fallen much and the farmers continue to spend the maximum on pesticides than on any other input."
So we have seeds that are much more expensive to buy because of their supposed pest-resistance, but famers are still ending up spending more or less as much as previously on pesticides. This phenomenon has also shown up in China and elsewhere - see our review of recent studies from China, South Africa and the USA.
Bt fails to reduce farmers' pesticides expense
Commodity Online, 30 August 2007
GUNTUR: Even after the success of the genetically modified (GM) Bt Cotton in several states, the cotton farmers' expenditure on pesticides remained high
According to study reports, pesticides remained the top expenditure item for cotton farmers this year also.
A field study of cotton growers in Guntur and Warangal in Andhra Pradesh conducted by the Agro-Economic Research Centre (AERC) of Andhra University during the 2004-05 season, said Bt Cotton farmers had to spray pesticides lesser number of times than those cultivating non-Bt varieties.
This was evident in Guntur, the country's largest pesticide consuming district, where the average number of sprays has dropped from 11.38 to 4.67.
The reduction in the number of sprays has been accompanied by an increased quantity of pesticides being injected in each round. As a result, the total quantum sprayed per hectare has not fallen much and the farmers continue to spend the maximum on pesticides than on any other input.
The AERC study has also shown that Bt Cotton has been much more effective against bollworm pest attacks. While 30 to 62 per cent of Bt Cotton farmers reported zero incidence of bollworm (30 for American, 38 for Pink and 62 for Spotted bollworm), the corresponding figures ranged between 18 and 22 per cent for non-Bt farmers (22 for American, 18 for Pink) and 19 for Spotted bollworm. Further, the proportion of Bt farmers reporting light attacks ranged between 31 and 46 per cent, while being 14 to 34 per cent in the case of non-Bt farmers.
The lower damage caused by pests has not only meant higher yields, but also translated into better quality and colour of the bolls.
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