Individual measures to promote genetically modified cotton

Almost 98 percent of the 12 million hectares of cotton grown in India is  Bt cotton. Genetically modified cotton technology,  introduced in the early 21st century, engulfed the entire cotton-growing sector of the country and led to the disappearance of traditional genetically modified cotton varieties.  Farmers saw hope in genetically modified cotton because it offered protection against pink bollworms, which suck the life out of bolls, and other similar pests that cause heavy losses.  However, all is not lost. Although farmers here and there have grown genetically modified cotton, it is only 2% of the country’s total cotton area. Declining yields (which fell from 542 kg/ha in 2016-17 to 460 kg/ha in 2019-20) and the development of resistance to rose oak have prompted a group of organizations to consider bringing back traditional varieties and hybrids that lack GM technology. Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) CEO GV Ramanjaneyulu said demand for organic cotton was growing as niche garment manufacturers sought such fiber as consumer interest was huge.  

 Positive field tests

    “We have been conducting field trials for the last two years and the results have been promising. We have collected the data and are ready to get seeds that can be used for commercial cultivation,” GV Ramanjaneyulu, Managing Director of  Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), told Businessline.  Apart from CSA, there are a number of other organizations in the country that have joined field trials in states like Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana to develop new varieties and hybrids that are mostly non-GMO. They do these experiments in collaboration with FiBL (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture), which is an institute operating in the European Union that promotes organic agriculture in different countries.  “We are getting yields to the tune of 6-7 quintals. Seeds are being multiplied. The idea is to bring cotton farmers back to non-GM”.

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