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"Economic Impacts and Impact Dynamics of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) Cotton in India"

Dec. 16, 2011: an Indian laborer sits on bales of cotton at a cotton mill in Dhrangadhra, India. The Indian parliament was informed earlier that week that about 90 percent of India's cotton crop is Bt. The transgenic seeds have increased the yield.
AP Photo

"Economic Impacts and Impact Dynamics of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) Cotton in India"

Journal Article, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Early Edition

July 2012

Authors: Jonas Kathage, Matin Qaim
Editor: Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development; Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project; Principal Investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Agricultural Innovation in Africa; Science, Technology, and Globalization; Science, Technology, and Public Policy

 

ABSTRACT

Despite widespread adoption of genetically modified crops in many countries, heated controversies about their advantages and disadvantages continue. Especially for developing countries, there are concerns that genetically modified crops fail to benefit smallholder farmers and contribute to social and economic hardship. Many economic studies contradict this view, but most of them look at short-term impacts only, so that uncertainty about longer-term effects prevails. We address this shortcoming by analyzing economic impacts and impact dynamics of Bt cotton in India. Building on unique panel data collected between 2002 and 2008, and controlling for nonrandom selection bias in technology adoption, we show that Bt has caused a 24% increase in cotton yield per acre through reduced pest damage and a 50% gain in cotton profit among smallholders. These benefits are stable; there are even indications that they have increased over time. We further show that Bt cotton adoption has raised consumption expenditures, a common measure of household living standard, by 18% during the 2006–2008 period. We conclude that Bt cotton has created large and sustainable benefits, which contribute to positive economic and social development in India.

 

"Despite widespread adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops in many countries (1), controversies about their advantages and disadvantages continue. In the public debate, negative attitudes often seem to dominate. Civil society groups tend to emphasize potential risks of GM crops and question reports about positive agronomic and economic effects (2–5). Especially with a view to developing countries, there are widespread concerns that GM crops fail to benefit smallholder farmers and contribute to social and economic hardship (4, 5). Much of this debate focuses on Bt cotton (5–9), as this is currently the most widely used GM crop technology among smallholders. Using comprehensive data from India, we show that these concerns about negative social and economic impacts are not backed by representative empirical evidence. Bt cotton contains genes from Bacillus thuringiensis...."

Continue reading: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/06/25/1203647109.long

 

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2. Union of Concerned Scientists (2009) Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops (UCS Publications, Cambridge, MA).

3. Greenpeace (2010) Economic Failures: Genetic Engineering Enforces Corporate Control of Agriculture (Greenpeace International, Amsterdam).

4. Friends of the Earth (2011) Who Benefits from GM Crops: An Industry Built on Myths (Friends of the Earth International, Amsterdam).

5. Shiva V, Barker D, Lockhart C (2011) The GMO Emperor Has No Clothes (Navdanya International, Florence, Italy and New Delhi, India).

6. Glover D (2010) Is Bt cotton a pro-poor technology? A review and critique of the empirical record. J Agrar Change 10:482–509.

7. Stone GD (2011) Field versus farm in Warangal: Bt cotton, higher yields, and larger questions. World Dev 39:387–398.

8. Gručre G, Sengupta D (2011) Bt cotton and farmer suicides in India: An evidencebased assessment. J Dev Stud 47:316–337.

9. Qaim M, Zilberman D (2003) Yield effects of genetically modified crops in developing countries. Science 299:900–902.

 

For more information about this publication please contact the STG Coordinator.

Full text of this publication is available at:
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/06/25/1203647109.long

For Academic Citation:

Kathage, Jonas and Matin Qaim. "Economic Impacts and Impact Dynamics of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) Cotton in India." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Early Edition (July 2012).

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