A blog entry by Glen Tyler.
GE cotton cultivation in India has been hailed as a success for the GE industry, and it has indeed been a success - for the seed industry. Companies like Monsanto (1) have made millions from selling patented cotton seeds, particularly Bt cotton to Indian farmers. Bt cotton is genetically engineered to produce a toxin that protects it from insect pests. Despite having this protection, Bt cotton farmers are still advised by seed sellers to spray their crops with a variety of chemical pesticides.
In “Picking Cotton: The choice between organic and genetically-engineered cotton for farmers in South India” a report released today, Greenpeace documents the experiences of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, one of the biggest cotton growing states in India. Unlike the seed companies, the farmers we met with have not been profiting from Bt cotton. Organic farmers have much lower costs of cultivation and therefore are more financially stable than Bt cotton farmers who often end the cotton season with crushing debt.
Photographer Peter Caton accompanied our scientist, Reyes Tirado to the cotton fields and we've put together this photo essay about the challenges and lives of the farmers.
(1) Battle royal over Bt cotton royalty, 28/05/2010, Latha Jishnu, business rediff,