Most scholarship on the closely-watched case of genetically modified Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton in India has focused on short-term impacts and has also ignored other major changes in India’s cotton agriculture. This Perspective combines several data sources over a 20-year span to provide long-term comparisons of Bt adoption with yields and other inputs at both countrywide and state-specific scales. Bt cotton adoption is shown to be a poor indicator of yield trends but a strong indicator of initial reductions in pesticide use. Yield increases correspond to changes in fertilizer and other inputs. Bt cotton has continued to control one major cotton pest, but with Bt resistance in another pest and surging populations of non-target pests, farmers now spend more on pesticides today than before the introduction of Bt. Indications are that the situation will continue to deteriorate.
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G.D.S.’s research in India has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
This depicts the same data as in Fig. 2 but with Ministry of Textiles yield estimates indicated by the double line.
This depicts the same data as in Fig. 3 but with Ministry of Textiles yield estimates indicated by the double line.
This depicts the same data as in Fig. 4 but with Ministry of Textiles yield estimates indicated by the double line. Note that the vertical scale for Tamil Nadu has changed slightly to accommodate the MT estimates.
This depicts the same data as in Fig. 5 but with Ministry of Textiles yield estimates indicated by the double line.
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Kranthi, K.R., Stone, G.D. Long-term impacts of Bt cotton in India. Nat. Plants 6, 188–196 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-020-0615-5
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