Explaining contradictory evidence regarding impacts of genetically modified crops in developing countries. Varietal performance of transgenic cotton in India

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Abstract or Summary

A study of the commercial growing of different varieties of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton compares the performance of growing official and unofficial hybrid varieties of Bt cotton and conventional (non-Bt) hybrids in Gujarat by 622 farmers. Results suggest that the official Bt varieties (MECH 12 and MECH 162) significantly outperform the unofficial varieties. However, unofficial, locally produced Bt hybrids can also perform significantly better than non-Bt hybrids, although second generation (F2) Bt seed appears to have no yield advantage compared to non-Bt hybrids but can save on insecticide use. Although hybrid vigour is reduced, or even lost, with F2 seed the Bt gene still confers some advantage. The F2 seed is regarded as ‘GM’ by the farmers (and is sold as such), even though its yield performance is little better than the non-GM hybrids. The results help to explain why there is so much confusion arising from GM cotton release in India.

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