Genetically modified insect resistance in cotton: some farm level economic impacts in India

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Abstract or Summary

The paper explores the impact of insect-resistant Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton on costs and returns over the first two seasons of its commercial release in three sub-regions of Maharashtra State, India. It is the first such research conducted in India based on farmers’ own practices rather than trial plots. Data were collected for a total of 7793 cotton plots in 2002 and 1577 plots in 2003. Results suggest that while the cost of cotton seed was much higher for farmers growing Bt cotton relative to those growing non-Bt cotton, the costs of bollworm spray were much lower. While Bt plots had greater costs (seed plus insecticide) than non-Bt plots, the yields and revenue from Bt plots were much higher than those of non-Bt plots (some 39% and 63% higher in 2002 and 2003, respectively). Overall, the gross margins of Bt plots were some 43% (2002) and 73% (2003) higher than those of non-Bt plots, although there was some variation between the three sub-regions of the state. The results suggest that Bt cotton has provided substantial benefits for farmers in India over the 2 years, but there are questions as to whether these benefits are sustainable.

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