By admin       2018-03-28

MARCH 28, 2018 – Bengaluru - While most other countries grow Bt cotton ‘varieties’, India is the only one cultivating Bt cotton ‘hybrids’ (“A perfect storm in the cotton field”, March 27) . Although, cotton yield is less in ‘varieties’ than ‘hybrids’, this is more than compensated for by ‘varieties’ lending themselves to be densely packed per acre when compared to ‘hybrids’ (the latter occupying more space per plant). The writer has highlighted the issue with growing Bt ‘hybrids’ longer. Another reason, as pointed out in a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is that the emergence in only India of secondary pests and resistant pink bollworm is a typical example of the non-implementation of the ‘refuge strategy’, where 10-15% of acreage is reserved for non-Bt cotton refuge to delay resistance development. There is also need to ensure that expression of the Bt genes is optimal to kill the pest every season. Earlier, the institutions concerned messed up the development of cotton ‘varieties’ by allowing Monsanto ‘hybrid’ contamination. Only now, the Central Institute for Cotton Research, Nagpur is talking about releasing both Bt and non-Bt cotton ‘varieties’ in a year or two. This only underscores the fact that apart from a commitment to generate cotton ‘varieties’, there needs to be vigorous extension activity to advise a farmer in terms of technology and help him to follow protocols. Left to themselves, most farmers will only spray more and more pesticides without leaving any space for refuge and in the process create resistance even to BG-3.

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