india suicide

STUDY: Farmer suicides in rained areas of India correlate with Bt cotton adoption

An important new paper by respected researchers deconstructs the false hype around Bt insecticidal cotton in India. The study shows that:
* Bt cotton, introduced in 2002 to control bollworm and other pests, is grown on more than 90% of the cotton area
* By 2013 insecticide use was high – back to 2000 levels (before the introduction of Bt cotton)
* Yields have plateaued nationally, and farmer suicides have increased in some areas
* Pink bollworm causes damage in irrigated cotton, but not in rainfed cotton unless infested from irrigated fields. Therefore use of Bt cotton seed and insecticide in rainfed cotton is questionable
* Bt cotton may be economic in irrigated cotton, whereas costs of Bt seed and insecticide increase the risk of farmer bankruptcy in low-yield rainfed cotton
* Inability to use saved seed and inadequate agronomic information trap cotton farmers on biotechnology and insecticide treadmills
* Annual suicide rates in rainfed areas are inversely related to farm size and yield, and directly related to increases in Bt cotton adoption (i.e., costs)
* High-density short-season non-GM cottons could increase yields and reduce input costs in irrigated and rainfed cotton
* Policy makers need to conduct a holistic analysis before new technologies are implemented in agricultural development.

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