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Isolating the 'farmer' effect as a component of the advantage of growing genetically modified varieties in developing countries: A Bt cotton case study from Jalgaon, India

March 8 2006

Venue: Library Research Seminar Room, ESRC Innogen Centre, DPP - Technology Faculty, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes

Organised by: Innogen

This presentation will explore the 'farmer' effect in yield advantages often claimed for Bt cotton (cotton with the endotoxtin gene from Bacillus thuringiensis conferring resistance to some insect pests) compared to non-Bt varieties. Critics claim that much of yield advantage, if not all of it, of Bt cotton could be due to the fact that farmers adopting the technology are in a better position to provide necessary inputs and management. Thus a Bt advantage is an artifact rather than reflecting a real advantage of the variety per se. This question is explored by an analysis of 63 non-adopting and 94 adopting households of Bt cotton in Jalgaon, Maharashtra State, India, spanning the seasons 2002 and 2003. The results suggest that Bt adopters are different from non-adopters in a number of regards. Adopters appear to be who specialise more on cotton - at least in terms of the land area they devote to the crop. Adopters also tend to spend more money on irrigating cotton and grow well-performing non-Bt varieties of cotton (Bunny). Taking gross margin as the basis for comparison, Bt plots have 2.5 times the gross margin of non-Bt plots in both seasons. However, if only adopters are considered then the gross margin advantage of Bt plots reduces to 1.6 times that of non-Bt plots over both seasons. This is still a significant advantage of growing Bt and could well explain the popularity of Bt in Maharashtra. However, it is clear that great care needs to be taken with such comparative studies.

http://www.genomicsnetwork.ac.uk/innogen/events/pastevents/seminars/furtherdetails,1360,en.t4.html