By admin       2018-07-24

The Bt cotton crisis comes less than 20 years after it was talked about as the harbinger of the next green revolution. In 2003 and 2006, the government spoke of Bt cotton’s efficacy in bollworm control and reduction of pesticide use. “The phenomenal achievements made through deployment of large number of private sector Bt cotton hybrids in the cotton production scenario have brought in a welcome change as regards production gains are concerned (sic),” stated a 2007-08 report of the All India Coordinated Cotton Improvement Programme set up under the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare. Constructed in a US laboratory more than a quarter century ago by splicing in a family of proteins – toxic for many pests – from a soil bacterium, Bt cotton was supposed to be science’s answer to falling crop yields and growing use of pesticides. From 2002 to 2009, cotton production, productivity and acreage grew steadily across India. In Maharashtra, production rose from 2.6 million bales in 2002-03 to 6.2 million bales in 2008-09; yields surged from 158 kg per hectare in 2002-03 to 336 kg per hectare in 2008-09. The increase in yields was commended despite “major cotton-growing area remaining under rainfed conditions”. From 2010, however, productivity oscillated in Maharashtra with a significant decline of 17 percent in 2011-12 and 13 percent in 2017-18.

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