A question about Bt cotton in India

As I remember the too-ing and fro-ing over the introduction of Bt cotton in India, saving on insecticides was the putative plus and runaway GM crops the putative negative. I know nothing about the subsequent record but suspect that the findings must be differentiated, as any such findings, by region and other demographics.

All this came back to me when I read the following passage describing a recent conference paper on Bt cotton:

Ambarish Karamchedu presented on Dried up Bt cotton narratives: climate, debt and distressed livelihoods in semi-arid smallholder India. Proponents of this ‘technical fix’ position GMO crops as a triple win. India has semi-arid and arid areas where rural poverty is concentrated, with an intense monsoon season (3-4 months), making farming a challenge. BT cotton introduced around 1995, thrives here. India is the biggest cotton cultivator and Bt cotton is grown by 7 million smallholder farmers, 66 percent in semi-arid areas with poor soils and low rainfall prone to monsoon. In Telangana, 65% of farmers across all classes produce BT cotton, with good harvests for 5 years, after which they decline. Failure of farmers who face increased input prices have to resort to non-farm incomes. The triple win technological fix narrative perpetuates and exacerbates the problems it seeks to solve, and benefits farmer institutions rather than enriching farmer knowledge and practice.


It’s that “with good harvests for 5 years, after which they decline” that grabbed my attention.

Did anyone predict that, be they proponents or opponents of Bt cotton?

This matters, because in the absence of any such prediction, why not also conclude: “Well, five years is five years more than expected?”

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