Production Of BT Cotton In India Leads To Significant Benefits

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Economist Dr. Laveesh Bhandari cites increased income, greater access to health care and better education as leading benefits for Indian farmers and communities.

The most informed person is the farmer, who can decide for himself or herself whether they want to utilize this new technology. And, farmers have spoken quite unambiguously in favor of the new technologies

Indian farmers first planted biotech crops in 2002, and today represent the most rapid adopters of this new technology in farming globally. “Overall, the introduction of biotechnology can lead to great benefits, and what we are finding is – that’s precisely what is happening across India,” says Dr. Laveesh Bhandari, an economist and founder director of Indicus Analytics, an economics research firm.

In a recent study of Bt cotton-growing areas in India, Indicus interviewed 10,000 cotton farmers – some of whom were growing genetically modified insect-protected (Bt) cotton and some of whom were not. “What our study shows is that the impact on the overall development of the household and the community is quite phenomenal in Bt cotton-producing areas: Greater incomes, greater access to healthcare services, greater education,” continues Bhandari in a brief and exclusive video made available today at the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site: http://www.monsanto.com/biotech-gmo/.

Of the 90 million Indian farmer households, approximately 95 percent are resource-poor farmers who do not make enough money from the land to make ends meet. Dr. Bhandari urges people who are opposed to Bt cotton in India to talk with some of the 2.3 million farmers who used plant biotechnology in India in 2006.

“The most informed person is the farmer, who can decide for himself or herself whether they want to utilize this new technology. And, farmers have spoken quite unambiguously in favor of the new technologies,” explains Bhandari. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), the largest proportional increase in biotech crop area in any country in 2006 was in India – where Indian farmers increase plantings by 192 percent, almost a three-fold increase from 1.3 million hectares in 2005 to 3.8 million hectares in 2006.

In addition to Dr. Bhandari’s video about Bt cotton in India, visitors to the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site can view conversations with three Indian farmers: Vitthal Narayan Patil who sees more pros than cons with biotechnology, Keshavrao Pawar who is benefiting from reduced insecticide spraying for bollworm control, and Eknath Shivram Pandit who discusses how GMO benefits Indian farmers.

Conversations about Plant Biotechnology is designed to give a voice and a face to the farmers and families who grow biotech crops and the experts who research and study the technology. The Web site contains more than 50, two- to three-minute, extremely candid, straightforward and compelling video segments with the people who know the technology best. The Web site is hosted by Monsanto Company — a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

Contact:    
Ranjana Smetacek
314-694-2642
ranjana.smetacek(@)monsanto.com

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