Organic cotton farming more profitable: Report (Lead)June 15th, 2010 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS
Hyderabad, June 15 (IANS) Organically grown cotton is more profitable for farmers than Bt cotton, a new Greenpeace report said Tuesday.
“In the year 2009-10, farmers cultivating cotton through organic practices earned 200 percent more net income than farmers who grew genetically engineered cotton (Bt cotton),” the report said.
The report “Picking Cotton - The choice between organic and genetically-engineered cotton for farmers in South India” is a comparative analysis of the two methods of agriculture among cotton farmers in Andhra Pradesh.
The genetically engineered (GE) variety makes farmers more vulnerable to financial collapse due to high debts and increased costs of cultivation, it said.
“Our study illustrates how farmers growing GE cotton face high debts and high costs of cultivation, becoming more vulnerable to financial collapses,” Greenpeace International scientist and study author Reyes Tirado said.
Bt cotton farmers not only use 26 different pesticides, including pesticides targeting pests that the GE cotton is supposed to control, but also lose financially due to their higher input costs, the report said.
In Andhra Pradesh, the cost of cultivation is much higher for Bt cotton farmers.
“The Bt cotton farmers incurred 65 percent higher debt - accumulated during 2008-09 and 2009-10 - than the non-Bt organic cotton farmers,” the report said.
The farmer-distress in the state had led to the central government announcing a Rs.20,000 crore five-year relief package for farmers in 2008.
“It is preposterous that, on the one hand, government dolls out thousands of crores in the name of bringing relief to farmers while, on the other hand, they permit and promote Bt cotton cultivation and ensure that the farmer can never escape the debt treadmill,” Centre for Sustainable Agriculture executive director G.V. Ramanjaneyalu, who was present at the report release, said.
The report not only shows the economic benefits of ecological (organic) farming but also reveals that GE cotton, despite using many toxic pesticides, still has greater crop loss to pests.
Greenpeace, which spearheaded the opposition to the introduction of Bt brinjal in India, demanded that the Indian government ban Bt cotton cultivation.
It also asked the government to take an active role in supplying sufficient quantities of quality non-Bt seeds and support organic cotton farming.
The controversies around Bt cotton have finally forced the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the agency responsible for the commercial release of GE crops in the country, to review its performance since 2002, the year it was released.
“Bt cotton has only benefitted the multinational seed giants like Monsanto which has earned Rs.1,580 crore as royalty from its patented Bt cotton seed since its release,” said Rajesh Krishnan, sustainable agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace India.
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Tags: andhra pradesh, bt cotton, comparative analysis, cotton cultivation, cotton farmers, crore, crores, financial collapse, ge cotton, ge variety, greenpeace, greenpeace report, input costs, international scientist, organic cotton, organic practices, picking cotton, south india, study author, sustainable agriculture