New Delhi, Jan. 16: The votaries of BT cotton today came out with a study showing that genetically-modified crops can do wonders for the Indian economy, even if they did add the mandatory caveat “BT is not a silver bullet to solve all problems”.
The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), an NGO working in the area of crop biotechnology applications for poverty alleviation, has come up with a new report that claims some 54,000 farmers in India have adopted this variety of seeds after this was allowed last year.
“BT cotton is expected to grow significantly in India in the years to come,” said Clive James, the chairman of the NGO, in his address during a teleconference including India, Philippines, Malaysia and Australia.
“It will give a return of $500 per hectare per year, as against only $250 per year, without it,” James claimed, pointing out the economic benefits of BT cotton.
However, the success of BT cotton in India has so far not been dramatic and voices of concern have been raised from time to time, especially about environmental and health hazards associated with not only BT cotton but also other genetically-modified crops like GM mustard.
“Even if the use of BT cotton can reduce the use of insecticides by about half, for the other half there is the need to use other pesticides for which BT is not effective,” admitted Clive.
The NGO chairman, who remained evasive on Indian journalists’ questions about the safety aspects of genetically-modified food, said: “Even after using BT cotton, integrated pest management is the best way to go.”