18-Nov-2011

Bt Vt And All That


Since 2002, the country's output has gone up two-and-half times to over 35 million bales this year, which has been brought about by higher acreages (from under 8 million to nearly 12 million hectares) and also a jump in yields (from an average 300 kg of lint to about 500 kg per hectare). 
... the last three or four years have seen yields stagnate, if not fall from the peak 550 kg reached in 2007. Cotton farmers are now grappling with new pests such as pink bollworm and jassids. The leaf curl virus, imported from Pakistan, has reportedly developed into a new form that scientists fear could pose more problems in the years to come.
So Bt was the answer to what question exactly?  But, whatever, they have the solution to the newest pests, though the Indian farmers will have to wait only ten years for it:  
Bollgard III, the advanced version of genetically modified cotton from the US agri-science major Monsanto, is likely to be commercially released in the global market in 2016-17. For India, it could take some more time and could be introduced around 2020, according to a Monsanto official. 
“Bollgard III will have resistance to bollworm, army worm and pink bollworm. It will also be herbicide tolerant,” said Dr Roy Cantrell, Global Cotton Breeding Lead of Monsanto.
As to the problems with Bollgard I, no worries there either:

Asked about reports of poor performance of Bollgard I currently in India, he said it was one of the reasons why farmers were shifting to Bollgard II.

Ah, good old Microsoft business model.  Lock in the customers so that they can't leave, ever.  The question must have been:  How can Monsanto make profits?


For a country that was languishing in cotton production, Brazil has come a long way to become the fifth largest producer in the world. Since 1994, its production has quadrupled, while exports have touched 800,000 tonnes from zero. 
“We have shifted cotton cultivation from the south and south-western parts of our country to the central and western parts,” [Mr Haroldo Cunha, Executive President of the Brazilian Cotton Institute] said. 
This helped because the climate and soil in the central and western parts were conducive to grow cotton in the Cerrados that is like the Savannahs. “More than these, only small farmers had been planting cotton in south and south-western parts of the country, while large growers took to cotton once it was taken up in central and western parts,” said Mr Cunha. 
A cotton producers association was formed to take up various issues of growers with the Government. The association also created a foundation for research that would work in tandem with growers. The growers' body tells the research association of its needs and the latter works accordingly. The Government, too, on its part supports research. Growers contribute $30 a hectare for research. 
“It helped to increase productivity from 770 kg lint (processed cotton) a hectare to 1,450 kg now,” said Mr Cunha. 
Interestingly, the growth in cotton production has not been boosted by genetically modified cotton varieties.
No, really?  No genetically modified cotton varieties?  How can that be?  Why can't we do it in desh? 

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