Bt Cotton

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Cotton, like many other plants, has a variety of pests which harm the plant and lower the amount of cotton a farmer produces. To combat this issue researchers have genetically modified cotton so that the plant excretes a toxin that is harmful to many of these pests, like Bollworms.

BT Cotton stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium. This bacterium produces and endotoxin, which is lethal to many of the pests. This toxin can be very useful because helpful insects are left unharmed. The genes that produces the toxins are called Cry 1 Ac and Cry 1 Ab. These two genes are most effectively and commonly used to genetically modify various crops.

In order to genetically modify any organism one must initially identify a gene or trait, in another organism, that can be useful. There are various methods where a gene of an organism can be transferred into another one. BT Cotton was produced through the Agrobacterium gene transfer. However, for a more direct approach the Biolistic technique is used.

Massive amounts of crops were lost due to pests like the bollworm. Northern India has faced losses of up to 80% of their crops and is forced to use many pesticides. This modification not only kills off the majority of the pests but leaves the harmless insects alone.

BT Cotton was initially introduced in U.S.A. by Monsanto in 1987. The use of pesticides is an ongoing issue and is one of the reason why researchers are developing plants to be naturally pest-resistant, therefore lowering the amount of pesticides used. Pesticides not only have a dire effect on the environment but on human health also, if it is not being handled with proper care. Bt seeds help lower the amount of pesticide used. As most cotton is produced in third world countries, not a lot of care is given into the application of pesticides and where the pesticide may end up, i.e. water and other edible crops. This is a direct health concern for many individuals who live near farms that use...
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