The twisted trajectory of Bt cotton -Sujatha Byravan
Despite finding huge favour in India, the GM crop has only brought modest benefits
Cotton has been woven and used in India for thousands of years. Cotton fabric from around 3,000 BCE has been excavated from the ruins of Mohenjo-daro, and archaeological findings in Mehrgarh, Pakistan, show that cotton was used in the subcontinent as far back as 5,000 BCE. Indian cotton fabrics dominated the world trade during the succeeding millennia and were exported to many places, including Greece, Rome, Persia, Egypt, Assyria and parts of Asia.
Much of the cotton cultivated until the 20th century was of the indigenous ‘desi’ variety, Gossypium arboreum. From the 1990s, hybrid varieties of G. hirsutum were promoted. These hybrids cannot resist a variety of local pests and require more fertilizers and pesticides. Cotton suffers from plenty of infestation from moth pests (Lepidopteran) such as the Pink Bollworm (PBW) and sap-sucking (Hemipteran) pests such as aphids and mealy bugs. With increasing pressure to buy hybrid seeds, the indigenous varieties have lost out over the years. But recently, there has been some resurgence of interest.
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The Hindu, 10 September, 2020, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-twisted-trajectory-of-bt-cotton/article32566091.ece?homepage=true