Organic Cotton Farming More Profitable: Report

The Economic Times, India.

Indo-Asian News Service, Thailand. 15.06.2010

HYDERABAD: Organically grown cotton is more profitable for farmers
than Bt cotton, a new Greenpeace report said on Tuesday.

“In the year 2009-10, farmers cultivating cotton through organic
practices earned 200 per cent 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

In Andhra Pradesh, the cost of cultivation is much higher for Bt
cotton farmers.

“The Bt cotton farmers incurred 65 per cent 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

“It is preposterous that, on the one hand, government hands 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

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 benefited 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.

Notes to Editor

1. Battle royal over Bt cotton royalty, 28/05/2010, Latha Jishnu,

2. The report is available at

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)

Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
431 Gilmour Street, Second Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0R5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext.6
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