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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Genetically Modified Cotton in India

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Genetically Modified (GM) cotton is widely grown in India making more than 80% of the total cotton crop. The GM Bollgard cotton contains a protein, produced by the soil bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis, which is toxic to insects.

Over the last decade there have been controversial reports
regarding the effective yields and usefulness of the Bt cotton for the Indian economy. In 2005 the southern State of Andra Pradesh banned a few varieties of Monsanto manufactured Bt cotton after several farmers committed suicide due to hefty financial losses.

The last Science issue contains interesting news from Delhi: Monsanto itself, confirming previous claims, has revealed that a bollworm feeding on cotton has developed resistance to the protein coded by the Cry1Ac gene and contained in Bt cotton. Monsanto researchers have collected a large number of bollworms from the 2009 cotton crop in the Gujarat state fields. In the labs such bollworms have been fed Bt toxins at usually lethal concentrations: nonetheless the insects survived.

While Monsanto's methodologies and statements need further confirmations it is clear that an ascertained growing insect resistance would be a serious flaw for the whole bio-tech projects revealing that GM crops (even when posing no hazard for human health) are anyway useless in the long term.

Humans can make their living and harvesting crops relying on traditional agricultural methods. Provided they use the brain.

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