CICR TECHNICAL BULLETIN NO: 22
TRANSGENIC Bt COTTON
Dr CD Mayee Dr P Singh Dr AB Dongre Dr MRK Rao Dr Sheo Raj
Central Institute for Cotton Research Nagpur
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Technical Bulletin from CICR (www.cicr.org.in)
Transgenic Bt Cotton
TRANSGENIC Bt COTTON 1. Introduction
Cotton is one of the major fibre crops of global significance. It is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of more than eighty countries of world occupying nearly 33 m ha with an annual production of 19 to 20 million tones of bales. China, U.S.A., India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Australia, Brazil, Greece, Argentina and Egypt are major cotton producing countries. These countries contribute nearly 85% of the global cotton production. In India, cotton is being cultivated in 9.0 m ha and stands first in acreage. The crop is grown in varied agro-climatic situation across nine major states viz. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The crop is also grown on small area in Orissia, Assam, U.P and West Bengal. Nearly 60 million people are engaged in cotton production, marketing and processing. The textile industry which utilizes the cotton provides employment to about 16% of the total workforce. Cotton in its various forms also serves as raw material for more than 25 industries. The decision of the Genetic Engineering Approval committee (GEAC) of Government of India clearing the release of Bt cotton for commercial cultivation during 2002-2003 crop season, is considered as one of the major milestones in the history of cotton improvement in India. Incidentally, cotton happens to be the first crop to receive environment clearance as GMO in Indian Agriculture, and thus has received maximum attention from planners, scientists, social workers, media, farmers and general public. With liberalization of world trade following WTO formation, quality and price competitiveness have become the buzz words not only for export performance but also for domestic use. India made significant strides in productivity since independence. The country was producing only 2.3 m bales of short and medium staple cotton from 4.4 million ha (with production of 88 kg lint / ha). With two major technological interventions viz. introduction of hybrid technology in early seventies and molecules in early eighties, productivity rose to 300 kg lint/ha. However, the protection technology has been misused and started showing negative impact, thus stagnating yields for the last 5-6 years. Today, productivity of Indian cottons is lowest in the world. In contrast, the major cotton producing countries have productivity 3 to 5 times higher. There are many reasons of low productivity of cotton in India. Besides dependency on 70% cotton production on vagaries on monsoon, diverse ecological and soil conditions, constant threat from pests and diseases is considered a major biological challenge to successful cotton productivity. Amongst the biotic stress factor, bollworms are by far the most serious pests of cotton and alternative controlling strategies, such as Bt cotton is considered a welcome technological step.
Why Bt Cotton?
In India, 162 species of insect pests attack different stages of cotton. Of these, about a dozen are major and half of them are key production constraints necessitating management interventions in the crop ecosystem. The sucking pest complex comprising of aphids, jassids, thrips and whitefly are widespread and fairly serious. However, their damage can be efficiently contained by the existing practices of cultural, chemical, biological and host resistance means. The bollworms are most important tissue feeders and highly damaging. Three types of bollworms viz. American bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), Pink bollworm (Pectionphora gossypiella) and Spotted bollworm (Earias vitella), normally referred as bollworm complex are...