Bt Cotton Crops Benefit Farmers In India

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Yields increase, pesticide applications decrease and financial well-being improves.

According to two recent studies of Bt cotton-growing areas in India, farmers in India have increased their net profit by more than 160 percent and eliminated approximately five pesticide applications per acre since adopting Bt cotton crops in 2002. In a brief and exclusive video made available today at the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site, Indian farmer Rajaram Murlidhar Lambe describes the benefits of Bt cotton crops on his farm including increased yields, decreased pesticide applications and improved financial well-being.

“About six years back, I had decided not to sow cotton seeds at all,” says Lambe who has farmed cotton for nearly 10 years. “I was fed up with the bollworms, which is our main enemy. No matter how much we sprayed and worked hard, we would not get sufficient yield. We would get only 1 or 2 quintals of cotton. So I decided not to grow cotton, because money and effort both were being wasted.

”But when biotech cotton seeds came into the market, I did a complete study of the product. In the first year, I used 3 acres of land to sow these seeds. And I experienced a good yield,” continues Lambe, describing his decision to adopt insect-protected cotton crops containing a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that protects cotton plants from specific lepidopteron insect pests.

“The spraying, which we used to do quite often, is not required now. The spraying went down to zero,” Lambe explains. “We got double the yield with biotech cotton. I started with 3 acres, then 6 acres, and now 12 acres of cotton. … And every year I’ve been increasing.”

The highlights of the two studies on “Bt Cotton Farming in India” released by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) note that both Bt cotton farming villages and households are faring better than non-Bt cotton farming villages and households across a broad range of parameters on the socio-economic front.

“Since the yield has increased, money has increased. From that money, I dug two wells in my field...In the second year, I did repair work on my house...After that...I managed to buy a tractor,” says Lambe. “After using this cotton seed, my financial condition improved...After that, whenever I met any farmer, I would tell them how Bollgard is profitable.”

In addition to this video with Rajaram Murlidhar Lambe, visitors to the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site can view videos with his fellow countryman Vitthal Narayan Patil who discusses the pros and cons of biotechnology in India, Keshavrao Pawar who describes the benefits of reduced insecticide spraying, and Eknath Shivram Pandit who shares his experience with GMO plants and GMO benefits.

Conversations about Plant Biotechnology is designed to give a voice and a face to the farmers and families who grow GM crops and the experts who research and study the benefits of biotechnology in agriculture. The Web site contains nearly 60, 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.

Editor's Notes:

-Bt cotton contains a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that protects cotton plants from specific lepidopteron insect pests.

-Pesticides registered by the U.S. EPA will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on man or the environment, when used in accordance with label directions.

-10 quintals = 1 metric ton

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Ranjana Smetacek

314-694-2642

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