The Cost of Native and GM Cotton Crops

15th Jun 2015

Researchers at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, are reporting that native cotton in India can generate similar profits to genetically modified (GM) cotton when both are grown without irrigation.

The researchers compared the economic impact of growing native Asiatic cotton with that of growing American Bt cotton, which has been engineered to make the crop resistant to insect pests. The team found that farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra spent more money to produce Bt cotton than native cotton, even though the Bt cotton resulted in higher yields. The authors did find that growing GM cotton under rain-fed conditions had similar economic benefits to GM cotton grown using irrigation. Bt cotton with irrigation had higher yields, but cost more, which ate into profits. Overall, the authors suggest that farmers should consider a range of factors, including expenses and water availability, when decided which crop to plant.

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