In India, Bt cotton has been perceived by industry and government as a means to reduce pesticide use and increase productivity by combating the American bollworm, a major pest in India. Yet, its introduction faced resistance for environmental reasons. Herring (2003) argues that farmers' experience with the technology and its performance led to its official commercial introduction in 2002. The high costs of chemical pesticides, and their declining efficacy, increased the appeal of Bt cotton to farmers, many of whom suffered severe financial loss, and even bankruptcy, because of pest damage.
The results of the early trials (Herring, 2003) show yield effects of 30%-50%) and substantial pesticide cost saving. Moreover, the result of trials in 2001 (Qaim and Zilberman, 2003) shows yield effects of 80%, which is consistent with other findings (Herring, 2003) because of a high infestation rate that year. An unauthorized introduction of Bt cotton to local varieties in Gujarat resulted in high performance compared to traditional hybrid corn during bollworm infestation and played a crucial role in commercial introduction of the technology in 2002. Three varieties were introduced commercially that year. Two were very successful, with yield effects of 30% and pesticide cost saving. However, one of the varieties was not appropriate to the local conditions and resulted in excessive wilting. The results of these studies indicate that in India the benefits of Bt cotton vary according to the pest infestation and that switching away from the traditional variety may be a source of significant loss of yield, and thus use of GMVs should proceed with caution.
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