Organic cotton farming more profitable, says report

Hyderabad, June 15 (IANS) Organically grown cotton is more profitable for farmers than Bt cotton, a new Greenpeace report said here 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 (i) 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,’ it 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.

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.

The 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 quantity and quality of non-Bt seeds and support organic cotton farming.

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