The real success story of GM cotton and edible cotton oil in India 2002-2011

A wonderful colorful and readable booklet about the success of Bt cotton in India has been made available from the ISAAA website for India.
A sample table from this booklet tells the story of the massive expansion of cotton output over the last 10 years.

Indian cotton production statistics this last decade

“Amidst the oilseed crisis, cotton is the only oilseeds crop that has shown a remarkable progress after the introduction of Bt cotton hybrids in 2002. In the last nine years, cottonseed has become an important source of oilseeds in the country. The production of cotton oil registered a three-fold increase from 0.46 million tons in 2002-03 to 1.20 million tons in 2010-11 (Table 3). “

Summary.
In this decade, 2002 to 2011, Bt cotton has been successfully used as a multiple purpose crop in three ways: in the form of edible oil as food for human consumption; de-oiled cake as an animal feed; and kapas for fiber. The production of cotton seed, and its byproducts as oil and meal, has increased manifold from 0.46 million tons in 2002-03 to 1.20 million tons in 2010-11. As a result, Bt cotton meal (de-oiled cake) contributes one third of the country’s total demand for animal feed, whereas cotton oil contributes 13.7% of total edible oil production for human consumption in the country – a significant contribution which offsets more than half of the import bill for edible oil valued at US$6.5 billion annually. Increased production of Bt cotton oil could be one of the important strategies to substitute for edible oil imports which constitute more than 50% of the total edible oil consumption in the country. In 2009-10 India, for the first time ever, imported more edible oil, 8.80 million tons, than the 7.88 million tons it produced domestically. Due to the high nutritional content of cotton oil, Bt cotton oil is marketed after blending it with different edible oils. India is becoming increasingly dependent on expensive imports of vegetable oil, which is a valid strategic concern, and biotech Bt cotton and its second generation of stacked products, as a multipurpose crop for oil, fiber and feed, can play a critical role in Indian agriculture in the near, mid and long term future (James, 2010).

It is noteworthy that the by-products of Bt cotton, have been safely consumed as food and feed in India for nine years, without incident. Given this unblemished record, which is consistent with experience of more than 10 other countries world-wide, now maybe is the time for India to benefit from the application of the well-tested Bt technology in other crops.

Citation: Choudhary, B. and Gaur, K. (2011). Bt cotton in India: A multipurpose crop, ISAAA Biotech Information Centre, ISAAA, New Delhi, India

Update:

10 Years of Bt in India: Biotech Seeds Save Indian Market  
By K.R. Kranthi May 1, 2011 Cotton 24-7
Part II: 10 Years of Bt in India
By K.R. Kranthi May 1, 2011 Cotton 24-7


Other relevant posts at GMO Pundit (see also the “Cotton” and “India” tags)

Fluffy revolution
Financial Chronicle, India Sep 23 2009

For several years before the introduction of the new variety, cotton exports from India fluctuated between few thousands bales and one lakh bales. Within three years, exports moved to 5.8 million bales, peaking at 8.5 million in 2007-08 and earning foreign exchange worth Rs 8,366 crore. Compared with the other two top producers of cotton in the world, India’s performance is even more impressive. In 2002, the United States produced 17.2 million bales and China 25.2 million bales, according to figures published by the US department of agriculture. The spurt in India’s cotton production took it to 29 million bales in 2008-09, while the US declined to 13.52 million bales, having peaked at 23.89 in 2005-06. China produced 36. 5 million. From producing around 40 per cent of what China did, India has now touched a level of almost 70 per cent. Against the US, India’s output was 61 per cent

Roundup of Indian cotton statistics

International Food Policy Research Institute study on the possible connection between Bt cotton and farmer suicides in India
We first show that there is no evidence in available data of a “resurgence” of farmer suicides in India in the last five years. Second, we find that Bt cotton technology has been very effective overall in India. However, the context in which Bt cotton was introduced has generated disappointing results in some particular districts and seasons. Third, our analysis clearly shows that Bt cotton is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the occurrence of farmer suicides. In contrast, many other factors have likely played a prominent role.

Related posts about Indian cotton:

Cotton farmer suicide linked to export controls?

Millions of poisonings avoided

Reduction in market share

The early years of the fluffy revolution

Doubly insect protected cotton expands in India.

The push from Indian Bt cotton

Maintaining the status quo not good enough for human development

David Tribe

Written by David Tribe

David Tribe’s research career in academia and industry has covered molecular genetics, biochemistry, microbial evolution and biotechnology. He has over 60 publications and patents. Dr. Tribe's recent activities focus on agricultural policy and food risk management. He teaches graduate programs in food science and risk management as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Melbourne.

143 comments

  1. 2011-12 will mark ten years since the GoI permitted the commercialization of transgenic cotton commonly known as Bt cotton. The issue of transgenic cotton had been and continue to be one that generates heated controversy with claims made by civil society and counter claims made by Bt seed manufacturers. This paper, in 3 parts, tries to analyze whether 10 years of observational data gives us any clues that can dampen the fires of this controversy. Specifically, it tries to answer two questions, both related to the main touted claims of the Bt industry:
    a. Is Bt either a necessary or a sufficient explanation for increased cotton productivity?
    b. Have Bt succeeded in decreasing pest infestation in cotton to indirectly boost productivity and consequently bring about reduction in pesticide expenses?
    Read more: http://devconsultancygroup.blogspot.com/2011/07/as-bt-cotton-turns-10-observational.html

  2. Another paper that may be of interest (Nature is complicated):
    Title: “Parawilt/sudden wilt of cotton – a perspective on the cause and its management under field condition”
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/10jun2011/1654.pdf
    “Therefore, if both Bt and non-Bt plants are waterlogged with heavy rains or excessive irrigation under bright sunlight, the sudden wilt/parawilt occurrence is likely to be more in Bt compared to non-Bt plants.”

  3. More very recent background reading.
    ——————–
    Title: “Detrimental effect of expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac on in vitro regeneration, in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics”
    ————————–
    http://www.ias.ac.in/jbiosci/jun2011/363.pdf
    “In this context it is interesting to note that the second-generation insect-resistant cotton developed by Monsanto (Bollgard II®) has a chloroplast-targeted Cry2Ab protein. Although targeting the Cry1Ac protein to chloroplast circumvents the problem to a certain extent,
    strategies need to be designed to realise the full potential of the toxicity of such genes without cost to the fitness of such transgenic lines.”

  4. Every time it looks like all the objections to Bt cotton in India have conclusively been answered, people raise the objections all over again, and everybody has to go back and do the same job they did before.
    What a tedious treadmill.

  5. It is important, in that Indian farmers have to be properly informed about the specificity of Bt for certain types of insect so that they can adopt the correct agronomic practices to deal with them.
    It is irrelevant to the utility of Bt, although perhaps suggests an avenue for useful traits (those vs sucking pests)

  6. It’s hard to imagine why so much time and effort is spent finding efficacious events which don’t have phenotypic ill effects isn’t it?
    Oh wait. No. It isn’t.
    This paper adds nothing to the discussion on Bt varieites already commercialized.

  7. I’m surprised (I’m not!) that you failed to mention the reasons given in the paper – they are, by and large, very unsurprising – Bt cotton suffers less insect damage, retains more bolls, and therefore maintains a higher metabolic activity – the pertinent section you missed being

    Thus, the higher metabolic activity and
    rapid growth of a Bt plant at reproductive phase make it
    more vulnerable to any environmental abnormalities like
    sudden floods. But for this growth difference, the Bt gene
    has nothing to do with the occurrence of wilt in transgenic
    Bt plants, as claimed by earlier workers9

    Wilt hits these plants harder because… they’re doing better – this really isn’t a big surprise – I’ve done experiments on nitrogen treatment x drought treatment interactions and what one sees on the application of a drought treatment is that plants under high nitrogen show the effects of drought faster and more severely than low nitrogen plants – flooding would clearly have similar effects (flood the roots causing anoxic conditions which shut down nutrient uptake and transport – remove nutrients from a very metabolically active plant and it suffers – remove nutrients from a less active plant and it suffers less)
    What I think more interesting than this however is why you omitted the preamble to the paragraph you quoted – it’s almost like you go through the literature cherry picking phrases that back your apparent inherent dislike of GMOs and fail to actually read the attached paper – seems this time you got unlucky and instead of just floating a turd of a paper out for everyone to see
    you picked a paper which appears to be reasonably well done and inadvertently forgot to check to see if it actually says what you think it does.
    I look forward to your demands of post deletion, editing, shifting and pleading to the guidelines laid down.

  8. The paper indicates there are 5 agronomic solutions that can help control the impact of parawilt cotton.
    “With the above understanding certain guidelines for managing
    and minimizing the impact of parawilt on cotton
    can be formulated. These are mostly practices that favour
    the growth of strong, healthy root systems and better
    regulation at above-ground level so as to keep the soil–
    plant–atmosphere continuum intact under higher incidence
    of extreme rainfall events”
    In my reading of the conclusions, it sounds like the parawilt can be controlled with the better agronomic practices (and by better agronomic practices, keep in mind that this is a tax accountants interpretation of what “practices that favour the growth of healthy root systems” actually means). Things like don’t over-irrigate – yes an oversimplification, but still, if the “old way” was a lots of water is better than a little water and if that is replaced by “let’s just put on the right amount of water” isn’t that better for everyone?
    Also “Green manure crops grown during the off-season can help improve the soil structure and drainage.” Doesn’t that mean proper crop rotation? Would an agronomist help me out on that one? Sounds like a good agronomic practice to follow, but I’m not an agronomist.
    There was also the recommendation to choose the right cultivar for the field. This I would have to put on the local seed rep to work with the local grower. It sounds to me like if you have a field with poor drainage, you should use the cultivars recommended in the study because of their large root mass.
    So, it appears that hybrid Bt cotton is providing higher yeilds with fewer chemical applications. According to this study it would appear that in order to achieve the maximum yeild potential from the cotton, the grower needs to ensure they are adapting their agronomic practices to the needs of the new hybrids.
    Note – I read the conclusions only.

  9. I have just updated the post with other relevant statistics on the Fluffy Revolution that is the inconvenient truth undermining Greenpeace’s efforts to justify their criminal destruction of GM crop trials as “necessary” to protect the interests of poor farmers exploited by the seed companies.
    Also, I think there is a good case to be made that the sudden jump in Indian cotton industry did not primarily come from Bt-protection. If you look at the time course of yield improvement (as I have)over the early part of the decade the yield jumped when only a small percentage of the total Indian cotton crop was “officially” GM. The simplest explanation is that the emergence of a seed industry based on hybrids is the main causal factor. Good germplasm and hybrid vigor did it. The effect of Bt is more likely to be fewer poisonings of farmers and their families and less synthetic pesticide spraying, and it would be interesting to see stats on Indian synthetic chemical pesticide sales over this time.
    Overall, Bt-hybrid cotton should be compared with the alternative of heavy pesticide spraying. Perhaps Henry could discuss that.

  10. Apologies if this is not the appropriate thread to ask this in but as i cannot find any comment on it using the search function and as this thread has plenty of activity. Has anyone here critiqued the following lit review.
    A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants
    José L. Domingolow Jordi Giné Bordonaba
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21296423

  11. David Tribe on July 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm stated: “Overall, Bt-hybrid cotton should be compared with the alternative of heavy pesticide spraying. Perhaps Henry could discuss that.”
    ——————————————
    H.Kuska comment. The following 2011 paper may be of use concerning this question.
    ——————————-
    Title: “Preferences of field bollworm larvae for cotton plant structures: impact of Bt and history of survival on Bt crops”
    ——————————–
    I have the full paper, but I think that only the abstract is available to the general public.
    ————————————–
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1570-7458.2011.01135.x/abstract
    ———————————-
    This is from part of the introduction in the full paper:
    —————————–
    “Here, we report experiments that investigate
    whether H. armigera larvae have developed marked
    behavioural mechanisms of resistance that reduce an
    insect’s exposure to toxic compounds.”
    ————————————
    This is from the start of the discussion in the full paper:
    ——————
    “Discussion
    In this study, there were no significant differences between
    non-Bt cotton and Bollgard II in the numbers of larvae
    on various plant structures 2 h after their introduction to
    an experimental arena. At 24 and 48 h, the developmental
    stage of larvae had a marked effect on the pattern of distribution,
    with neonates significantly altering their preference
    for specific structures depending on the cotton type,
    whereas third instars did not. At 24 and 48 h after their
    introduction, most neonate larvae on Bollgard II were
    found on flowers (86%), while on non-Bt cotton larvae
    were mostly split between flowers (39%) and leaves (51%).”
    ———————————–
    “In summary, our results indicate that the distribution of
    bollworms among plant structures of Bollgard II cotton
    is a complex process. Flowers may play an important role
    for survival although larvae are no more likely to be found
    on this structure on plants of Bollgard II than on non-Bt
    cotton. Further research is needed to determine whether
    bollworms alter their behaviour when exposed to Bollgard
    II plants, possibly by moving and sampling plant tissues
    more frequently which in turn may cause additional
    injury. Also, future research in this area should focus on
    quantifying Bt toxin expression during the growing season,
    because Helicoverpa spp. could survive on Bollgard II
    plants if Bt toxin expression declines even for a short period
    that is coincident with Helicoverpa spp. egg pressure.
    Finally, we caution that theremay be subtle shifts in behaviour
    in H. armigera in response to selection by Bt cotton
    that we did not set out to detect with our experimental
    design.”
    —————————
    This paper seems to be saying (to me, H.Kuska) that, yes pesticide use, may have been lower in the past, but that Nature is complex, and we may have to spray again.

  12. Chris, look at https://biofortified.org/2011/02/glyphosate/
    for my post on March 5, 2011 at 10:14 am ·
    ——————-
    Once you get to that thread, you can locate my post by some of words below into your “find” function under “Edit” (Windows Explorer).
    ————————–
    “The second paper is still “in press” but the abstract is available.
    J.L. Domingo, J. Giné Bordonaba. A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants. Environment International xxx (2011) xxx–xxx. I have a pre publication copy. It is my understanding that I do not have the right to distribute it.”

  13. Hi Chris, you could start a topic in the forum, since this comment is not related to the post you commented on. Comment threads get unreadable very fast if people start posting unrelated things in the same place.

  14. Thanks Anastasia. It just seemed to me that the forum does not appear to attract the traffic or attention that the blog posts get. I was just hoping that someone could inform me one way or another. As you have not done so i’m assuming the negative. For the laypersons like myself it would be very interesting to hear what the contributers to this site make of it. Perhaps an upcoming dissection?

  15. One of the values of Bt products is their specificity, so it is not surprising that they are not effective against feeding groups of insects that they don’t target. Particularly since most Bt products target insects that eat the plant tissues and not insects that feed upon the plant fluids.

  16. ————————–
    The bug guy commented on July 16, 2011 at 5:31 am: “One of the values of Bt products is their specificity, so it is not surprising …….”
    ——————–
    H.Kuska comment: I wish I had the full paper as it would tell in the Introduction exactly why the research was considered important enough to be done and why the reviewers and editor felt it was important enough to publish. My reaction was/is” does this mean the farmers will have to spray even if they use the Bt product?
    ——————-

  17. Ewan R on July 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm stated: “What I think more interesting than this however is why you omitted the preamble to the paragraph you quoted – it’s almost like you go through the literature cherry picking phrases that back your apparent inherent dislike of GMOs and fail to actually read the attached paper – seems this time you got unlucky and instead of just floating a turd of a paper out for everyone to see you picked a paper which appears to be reasonably well done and inadvertently forgot to check to see if it actually says what you think it does.
    I look forward to your demands of post deletion, editing, shifting and pleading to the guidelines laid down.”
    ——————————–
    H.Kuska comment. Please note that my only comment in my post was “(Nature is complicated)”. In another thread I had brought up the point that one problem with utilization of general GMO products is that the local strain(s) had selectively been bred for local conditions. That was what came to my mind as I read the complete paper.
    ———————————-
    Regarding the above quoted material. Why are the moderators allowing such statements? The moderators have my permission to remove my question when they remove the quoted statement.

  18. ————————–
    Eric Baumholder on July 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm stated: ” Every time it looks like all the objections to Bt cotton in India have conclusively been answered, people raise the objections all over again, and everybody has to go back and do the same job they did before.”
    ——————————
    H. Kuska comment. I selected reviewed, very recent, scientific papers, (many of them done by Indian scientists). The normal practice is to justify in the Introduction why the research was done. The reviewers and editor then have to agreed that the work was important enough to be published. Again, Nature is complex.

  19. Please note that my only comment in my post was “(Nature is complicated)”.

    Weasling again I see. You sure you weren’t a lawyer rather than a chemist?

    In another thread I had brought up the point that one problem with utilization of general GMO products is that the local strain(s) had selectively been bred for local conditions.

    A point which was shown to be silly as GMO traits are introgressed into local strains selectively bred for local conditions. Also a point which has zero bearing in the discussion of this paper.
    Why this would come to mind when you read the paper isn’t immediately clear as the only part dealing with Bt is very specific about the reasons Bt had issues.

    Why are the moderators allowing such statements? The moderators have my permission to remove my question when they remove the quoted statement.

    Henry, why do you insist on being so remarkably thin skinned about everything always – your perpetual childish whining for posts to be censored because you deem them against a set of rules which frankly don’t have to apply (as Anastasia has pointed out now) is, I think, more irksome than the constant gish gallop of bad science and badly interpretted science which you seem to spew at every available opportunity.
    It was annoying before your previous flounce, it remains annoying now, and frankly I’ve had enough.
    The owners of biofortified are, of course, free to moderate, delete, move, quote in a book, write in the sky, superimpose over pictures of penguins or do whatever they see fit with this post. But only after they go through each of Henry’s posts and add a microscopic dot at the end containing the exact text contained herein.
    (I see your ridiculous demands on the editorship of a blog and raise you some even more ridiculous demands)

  20. The forum gets traffic when people post in it. As you can see, the sidebar lists recent posts with date and time so it’s easy to see when there is a new post. If you don’t want to post there, that is your prerogative, but the more people who make that choice the less posts there are in the forum.
    At the very least, if you are making a request that a systematic review of this paper be conducted, it seems that might be something that could be put in the forum since the editors do read it.
    Please note I’m not trying to be a hard ass here but again, keeping comment streams on topic makes things easier to read for everyone. Since we’re hoping to be an information source that’s available to a broad audience, staying on topic just seems a good thing to do. Most visitors find Biofortified through keyword searches. Imagine you’re just looking for info on “GM cotton and edible cotton oil in India” and you want to see if there are any pertinent comments, maybe you’re trying to decide if you want to join the conversation – so you you scroll down and see a ton of off topic comments, maybe some rules lawyering from H. Kuska. Instead of some short summaries and a link to other sources, you see crazy long pastes that don’t seem to have much to do with the conversation because they’re not in context. What do you do? Probably just leave. Based on our number of visitors vs number of commenters, most do just leave.

  21. Yes, there may be a need to spray because Bt does not and is not intended to protect a plant against all insects. It protects the plants against tissue-consuming Lepidoptera larvae, which are often major crop pests. Other control methods will be needed for other crop pests, preferably targeted when possible. Common types of pests could include fluid-sucking insects like aphids or leafhoppers, scale insects or leaf miners to name only a few.
    Prior experience has taught us that relying on broad-spectrum methods to control all or most insects tend to cause more problems in the long-term.

  22. “This paper seems to be saying (to me, H.Kuska) that, yes pesticide use, may have been lower in the past, but that Nature is complex, and we may have to spray again”.
    The post is about how Bt and commercial cotton breeding succeeded in India. Strangely, some people do not want to discuss that success, but isn’t it important to understand how to succeed in eliminating poverty and improving health on such a large scale (worth billions of extra income to farmers)? Maybe the accumulated guilt at (as Greenpeace and many Eupopean NGOS and activists have) deliberately trying to stop a benefit to developing countries for decades, means that mental denial of the facts is needed as a psychological defence mechanism?
    Farming is complex too. Bt does not mean that farmers stop spraying. In Australia Bt only eliminated 80% of spraying. BUT BT is compatible with other biocontrols and facilitates Integrated Pest Management. Broad-spectrum synthetic sprays are not.
    Also in 10 years or so of Bt GM cotton in Australia, insect resistance HAS NOT emerged as a major problem. Right from the start, regulators and scientists were proactive in applying measures to delay emergence of insect resistance. Non-protected Refuges helped, as did double Bt trait based-protection, and now triple-protection is on the horizon.

  23. The above link took me to a correspondence letter referring to an article.
    I find the link below to another letter on the same article to be a better discussion of the article.
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/10mar2011/604.pdf
    Interesting side-note, this letter was published in the same issue as the “To Bt or not to Bt” opinion piece primarily discussing Bt Brinjal linked below by Henry Kuska on July 15 at 3:22 pm.
    I find the correspondence I linked interesting as it discusses how findings of a study are apparently “misinterpreted and publicized by certain NGOs and the media that this pest (Helicoverpa armigera)has already developed resistance to Bt-cotton and the technology is not effective.”
    The correspondence discusses how researchers took larvae that survived on a Bt crop, raised them, mated them and found the progeny to be resistant to Bt. As the letter explains, this is no surprise and the method is done to develop resistant strains in laboratories. The author also explains that larval survival does not mean resistance has developed and discusses how refuge works and the importance of refuge as a method for delaying resistance development.
    The letter concludes with “Continuous research is needed to help farmers improve farm productivity and manage various challenges they face in their fields.” I think this is a nice tie in to the article on Parawilt above demonstrating that agronomic practices need to be adapted to manage new challenges.

  24. Here is a 2011 scientific paper that discusses “Benefits of Bt cotton counterbalanced by secondary pests?
    Perceptions of ecological change in China”
    From the ABSTRACT: “We found that the reduction in pesticide use in Bt cotton cultivars is significantly lower than that reported in research elsewhere.”
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/rj34j3v323423086/
    The following is from the full paper:
    —————————–
    “Farmers stated that the main reason for adopting
    Bt cotton is its pest resistance and not the reduction
    in pesticide applications (the latter reason
    mentioned by less than 1%). This is a minute but
    critical difference as demonstrated below. There is
    no doubt that farmers are satisfied with Bt cotton,
    as it has effectively brought the bollworm under
    control (in the sample provinces, over 90% of
    the respondents indicated a decrease in bollworm
    incidence). On the other hand, farmers are also
    faced with rising secondary pests. The overall majority
    of the farmers answered affirmative to the question whether secondary pests had increased since the start of Bt cotton cultivation. The type and level of secondary pests perceived shows regional variation, but in all of the three cotton producing regions, a substantive proportion of the farmers (ranging from 30.9% to 97.1%) have perceived a “strong” increase of one or more secondary pests.”
    AND THE FINAL PARAGRAPH OF THE PAPER
    —————————
    “Various researchers have pointed to the potential
    environmental risks of Bt cotton (Qiu 2008;
    Wang et al. 2008; Qaim 2003, p. 2126). Due to the lack of scientific understanding of Bt cotton’s ecological
    impact and the fact that ecological changes can only be monitored and evaluated on a long term, it is vital to adhere to the precautionary principle when biosafety issues are at stake. Bt cotton has a good potential in improving worldwide cotton production due to its effective resistance against the bollworm. At the same time, because of an evident rise of secondary pests, it is critically important to closely follow and assess its commercial production in the field.”

  25. The paper is confusing – table 4 is clearly mislabelled somehow as it doesn’t reflect the text whatsoever (the table clearly shows an increase in sprays in Bt cotton, whereas the paper describes a reduction in sprays, the magnitude of which is somewhat less than the earlier literature (although if you look at the figure for the early literature it is 3-12 sprays less, and their own number is 5-6 sprays less which if I’m doing my math right is a range contained within the first range.
    Clearly it highlights that Bt is no silver bullet (a claim which has never been made – when werewolves become a problem then expect a silver bullet GMO, not before) and that there is a potential for secondary pests to increase (which would only matter if the increase in secondary pests caused damage above and beyond what the bollworms were doing – this doesn’t appear to be the case)
    I actually quite like how the paper seems to be framing the precautionary principle – rather than adhering to the ridiculous standard of not using any technology that hasn’t been tested in every conceivable way they are suggesting close following of the technology within commercial production – I don’t think that anyone would argue that this is a bad idea – any new technology should be monitored – if only to keep Ag grad students busy (I jest!) – and data generated will be incredibly useful in assessing the overall benefits of the technology, designing strategy for future traits, and implementing better outreach programs for farmers so that they can better understand the technologies they are using and how best to integrate them with other methods to reduce any side-effects that over-reliance on the technology may have (I was rather shocked that a large number of respondants were under the impression that Bt was broader spectrum than it is – although I suspect this may be down to nefarious goings on with illegal seed producers making erroneous claims so as to boost sales)

  26. I recall there is another paper, in Science if my memory is correct, about a similar study 6 month to a year back, probably cited at my website. Probably we could learn more by talking to a few farmers rather than the biology literature which is a year or two behind the real world. . Again, Henry is mentioning the obvious to any person involved in the industry.
    David Tribe

  27. I have posted a recent abstract to give Henry a chance to focus on the chief issue that he has been silent about– synthetic pesticide poisoning when Bt is not used.
    More details are in the post, but the key point is:
    Bt cotton now helps to avoid several million cases of pesticide poisoning in India every year
    Impact of Bt cotton on pesticide poisoning in smallholder agriculture: A panel data analysis
    Ecological Economics Article in Press, doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.06.008
    Shahzad Kouser and Matin Qaim,
    a Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Georg-August-University of Goettingen, 37073 Goettingen, Germany
    Available online 13 July 2011.
    David TRibe

  28. There is nothing really surprising about that. Since the farmers are spraying less pesticides to control bollworm, fewer non-bollworm pests are being killed in the process.
    The course of action from here is to apply targeted control measures to these other pests as needed, as expected under the concepts of Integrated Pest Management.
    That is the whole idea behind recent ideas in pest insect control. You use methods that can target a specific pest or group of pests and avoid blanket applications of wide-spectrum pesticides that can have adverse effects on far more than the pest species.

  29. ———————————
    GMO Pundit stated on July 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm; “Again, Henry is mentioning the obvious to any person involved in the industry.”
    ———————-
    H. Kuska comment: If it was so obvious I wonder why professionals in the field would do the research, and why the reviewers and editor felt it was worthy of publication?
    My above question is usually answered in the Introduction. This particular introduction is rather long so I will just quote what I consider the pertinent part (still rather long):
    ————————-
    “Lastly, there is the issue of secondary (including
    sucking) pests. Bt cotton is not effective against
    secondary pests, which in non-transgenic cotton
    cultivation are usually killed through heavier insecticide sprayings. However, as fewer pesticides
    are used, secondary pests might increase, thereby
    counteracting the effects of Bt cotton and gradually even evolving into primary pests themselves (Turnipseed et al. 1995). Although several studies have predicted the eventuality of secondary pests (Cannon 2000; Lang 2006; Wang et al. 2006, 2008; Xu et al. 2008), there are no solid data available from the field, except for a few, at times, contradictory studies. The first study by (Wang et al. 2009) concludes that the increase in insecticide use for the control of secondary insects is far smaller than the reduction in total insecticide use due to Bt cotton adoption. Another study contradicts these findings. Based on a 3-year experimental field study in one province in China (Henan), Men et al. (2004) concluded that there is no difference in the total pesticide application between Bt cotton and conventional varieties because of additional sprayings to control secondary pests.”

  30. If it was so obvious I wonder why professionals in the field would do the research, and why the reviewers and editor felt it was worthy of publication?

    Because even the obvious requires verification. Because magnitude of effect is not obvious – it is entirely possible that the magnitude could have been so negligible as to be of no consequence at all, high enough that the initial benefits of the technology were somewhat reduced (this appears to be the case) so high that the initial benefits of the technology were removed entirely, or so catastrophically bad that with the removal of one pest species new species entered the arena devoid of competition and made the Bt crop a worse bet for the farmer.
    Great honking swathes of the peer reviewed literature cover perfectly obvious occurances – it seems odd that you don’t realize this (most of the literature showing improved yields and reduced pesticide use on Bt cotton for instance – no shit sherlock, if you kill the major pest faster and more effectively than wanton spraying good things will happen – perfectly obvious, copiously documented in the literature)

  31. David Tribe stated on July 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm · “I have posted a recent abstract to give Henry a chance to focus on the chief issue that he has been silent about– synthetic pesticide poisoning when Bt is not used.”
    ———————————
    H.Kuska comment. I saw that paper this morning. I did not post it because one of its starting points is that Bt cotton reduces total pesticide use. From the literature that I have seen that has not yet been established and also may not apply in the future.
    ————————————-
    The other point that immediately came to mind was that Bt users could of been more a more progressive subset as indicated by selecting the Bt-form and may have been more careful when preparing and spraying. This is similar (but different)to the author’s concern with experience.”Other studies showed that experience may reduce the incidence of poisoning (Asfaw et al., 2010; Maumbe and Swinton, 2003), because experienced farmers are often more aware of pesticide-related risks, which may result in more careful handling.” The authors say something similar to my point:
    —————————-
    The early adopters were likely more knowledgeable
    farmers who may have suffered less from pesticide poisoning
    anyway.”
    ————————
    Apparently do not feel that later adopters could also have this characteristic?
    ———————–
    They do state: “Farmer learning effects may also partly explain why the Bt effect became more visible and significant only after 2006.” H.Kuska question: why only “partly”?
    ———————–
    I am confused by their attempt to correlate Toxicity Level of the pesticide used with the reports of: “In particular, they were asked about the frequency and type of pesticide-related poisonings, such as skin and eye irritation, breathing problems, nausea, faintness, and
    other symptoms.2”
    ——————-
    The Toxicity Level (acute toxicity hazard) of a pesticide may be due to completely different problems that indicated by these symptons???? I would think that a number of these effects/symptons could be caused by the solvents.
    ————————-
    “In Table 1, pesticide quantities are further subdivided into four groups according to the recently revised World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for acute toxicity hazard (WHO, 2010). On Bt plots, significantly lower quantities of hazard category I (extremely hazardous) and II (moderately hazardous) pesticides are used. No difference between Bt and non-Bt plots is observed for hazard category III (slightly hazardous) pesticides, and the difference for hazard category IV (unlikely to present acute hazard) pesticides is relatively small. This pattern suggests that the largest Bt-related reductions occur in the most toxic pesticides, which is consistent with previous studies in India and elsewhere (Qaim and de Janvry, 2005; Qaim and Zilberman, 2003).”
    ———————————–
    i.e. I would think that one would look at the pesticide(s) that is(are) most often not used when Bt-cotton is used, then look up its/their observed effects, and then see if there is a noticeable reduction of these specific effects.
    ———————————
    However, the above comments are of academic interest only as the starting point of lower total pesticide use now (and in the future) is apparently still in question. See my post on July 20, 2011 at 6:21 pm ·

  32. Henry
    If you have not yet read enough to know that pesticide use has decreased with Bt-cotton introduction, perhaps you should start further back than only very recent samples of the breaking literature.
    David Tribe

  33. If it was so obvious I wonder why professionals in the field would do the research, and why the reviewers and editor felt it was worthy of publication?

    Because the obvious needs to be confirmed and quantified if work is to be continued in that field.
    These kinds of studies are looking for anticipated, possible consequences to determine if any occur and at what magnitude. From there, further work can be done to address those changes.
    Agricultural pest control has never been and will never be static. It will always change as pests adapt and control methods are altered or replaced in response. Consequently, there will continue to be research to detect and evaluate these changes so that new or revised control methods can be developed.

  34. ———————————
    GMO Pundit stated on July 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm · ” Henry
    If you have not yet read enough to know that pesticide use has decreased with Bt-cotton introduction, perhaps you should start further back than only very recent samples of the breaking literature.”
    ———————————–
    H. Kuska comment. Nature is complex. It is very possible that early reports reported correctly that then (at first) Bt cotton use decreased spraying, but Nature can adjust and this appears to be what is happening.
    —————–
    On July 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm · I stated: “I hope this is paper can be opened by the general public (sometimes because of my University background, I can open sites that are blocked to the public).
    Title “To Bt or not?”
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/10mar2011/624.pdf
    ————————–
    In the above paper the following is stated:
    —————————
    “Although one of the potential benefits of GM cropping is a reduction in pesticides being used currently, some studies have shown that the use of pesticide actually increases over a period of time, as noted in a recent study on Bt cotton grown in Karnataka from 2002 to 2009 (ref. 11). In addition, secondary pests that were not originally present develop over a period of time with GM cropping12.”

  35. Interestingly reference 11 isn’t a piece of peer reviewed science but a report by a clearly biased group which has not undergone any sort of peer review.
    One assumes this reference was allowed to be used as the piece you refer to is not a peer-reviewed paper but an opinion piece.
    Equally odd is your apparent reticence to bring attention to the actual research article in the same edition of the journal (y’know, the piece that was peer reviewed) pertinent to Bt
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/25jul2011/146.pdf
    I’m wondering if this is perhaps because this would call into question the importance of rising resistance (covering as it does methods for combatting resistance as it arises) although maybe you simply missed it because Nature is complex.

  36. ————————————
    Ewan R stated on July 21, 2011 at 11:01 am
    ———————
    “Equally odd is your apparent reticence to bring attention……”
    “I’m wondering if this is perhaps ….”
    AND
    “although maybe you simply missed it because….”
    ————————-
    H. Kuska comment: Please follow the guidelines
    ============
    “Conjecture: We aim for fact based discussion. Please keep away from making wild accusations and conspiracy theories.”
    ==============
    and discuss the points not “YOUR interpretation of the motive(s) of others.
    ——————————
    H.Kuska comment concerning the science presented: The reference you gave is very interesting, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  37. H. Kuska comment. “It is very possible that early reports reported correctly that then (at first) Bt cotton use decreased spraying”
    ______
    “Commercial cultivation of transgenic cotton thus began in India in 2002. Statistics show that, since the introduction of the transgenics, the area under cotton has steadily increased from 7.7 m ha in 2002 to 9.4 m ha in 2008, production has increased from 2.3 mt in 2002 to 5.4 mt in 2008 with a jump in productivity from 302 to 567 kg/ha (ref. 3). Concurrently, during these years pesticide consumption witnessed a decline by almost 50% principally due to reduction in the number of
    applications against bollworms.”
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/10dec2010/1602.pdf
    Is it really just “very possible” that pesticide consumption declined principally due to Bt cotton? The above was from a research paper, not an opinion piece or a correspondence. Why is it so difficult to concede that Bt cotton was a factor in the success of the Indian cotton industry over the last 10 years?
    What was it like before Bt cotton?
    From the same research article above:
    “During the 80s and 90s of the last century, there have been widespread and regular outbreaks of H. armigera1,2, leading to steady increase in pesticide application and increase in the cost of crop production. This was attributed to the decline in area and production of cotton during the time.”
    Henry, if not Bt cotton, then what? Dispose of the Bt tool and grow non-Bt hybrids. What would the result of that decision be – wouldn’t the H. armigera come back and be the same primary problem?

  38. Its interesting yet again what you fail to discuss in the poisoning reduction paper Henry. You fail to mention there is abundant evidence in it that Bt adoption is associated with lower use of pesticides, which was the issue I raised. Both the paper itself, and the citations in the introduction establish this with extensive evidence. This is directly related to the issues raised with you but you are silent about it.
    Particularly you fail to see that pesticide reductions improve with time, and extend to no-Bt farms too. This is all explicitly discussed in the paper and addresses the issues you raised, but you don’t see it, or don’t mention it. This is strait-forward scientific bias you are exhibiting. The question is why are you biased in your comments?
    What is even more interesting is most of the anti-GM lobby groups behave the same way.
    From the paper conclusions:
    “The results demonstrate that Bt cotton has notably reduced the incidence of pesticide poisoning among smallholder farmers in India.
    While no significant effects were observed in the early years of adoption, clear reductions have occurred since 2006. Thus, the positive health effects have increased with increasing technology adoption rates. Extrapolating the estimation results to India as a whole, Bt cotton now helps to avoid at least 2.4 million cases of pesticide poisoning every year, which is equivalent to a health cost saving of 14 million US$. These are lower-bound estimates of the health benefits, because they neglect the positive spillovers that Bt cotton entails. Alternative estimates suggest that Bt cotton may avoid up to 9 million poisoning incidences per year, which translates into a health cost saving of 51 million US$. In any case, the positive health externalities are sizeable.
    The main reason for these health benefits of Bt technology is that the inbuilt resistance against major insect pests allows high cotton yields with much lower levels of chemical insecticides. As smallholder farmers spray pesticides manually, usually with insufficient protective clothing, lower pesticide use means lower exposure to toxic chemicals. Pesticide use models, which we also estimated with fixed-effects specifications, show that Bt cotton has reduced pesticide use by 50 percent, with savings increasing over time. Strikingly, the largest reductions of 70 percent occur in the most toxic pesticides belonging to hazard category I. While not further evaluated here, this also entails advantages for the environment. “

  39. ——————————————-
    Richard R on July 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm presented a link to a paper given at a meeting that presented numbers for pesticide use from 2002 to 2008. Other papers give different numbers ( 50 to 70 percent reduction seems to cover the ranges cited). The topic of this thread covers 2002 – 2011.
    I interpret the Richard R cited paper as supporting my statement on July 21, 2011 at 6:57 am”
    ————————
    “H. Kuska comment. Nature is complex. It is very possible that early reports reported correctly that then (at first) Bt cotton use decreased spraying, but Nature can adjust and this appears to be what is happening.”
    —————————-
    The Richard R cited paper states:
    —————————
    “In this communication we report the natural occurrence of H. armigera on Bt-cotton in the experimental plots laid in the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) Campus,
    Raichur, India, which is situated in the northeastern dry zone (Zone II) of Karnataka at 16°11′N lat. and 77°20′E long. with an altitude of 389 m amsl. Further, we show that these individuals are able to complete their life cycle and reproduce on commercial Bt-cotton hybrids.”
    =============================
    Regarding Richard’s questions:
    —————————–
    “Henry, if not Bt cotton, then what? Dispose of the Bt tool and grow non-Bt hybrids. What would the result of that decision be – wouldn’t the H. armigera come back and be the same primary problem?”
    ===========================
    H.Kuska comment: We are discussing what is the reality of
    ————————
    “The real success story of GM cotton and ……. in India 2002-2011”
    ————————–
    Ewan R on July 21, 2011 at 11:01 am cited a paper which gives some possible approaches between the extreme that you state (“Dispose of the Bt tool and grow non-Bt hybrids.”) and the present reality.
    ————————-
    “SIT is a method of biological control
    whereby overwhelming numbers of sterile
    male insects are generated by irradiation
    and subsequently released.” Table 1 gave: “(NOT AN EXACT QUOTE)Infestation rate on non-Bt cotton 15.3% (before) and 0.012% (after) – 99.9% reduction in infestation”

  40. ———————————-
    David Tribe on July 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm · stated: “Its interesting yet again what you fail to discuss the poisoning reduction paper”
    ——————–
    Henry Kuska comment:
    Please see my post of July 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm.
    =================================
    David Tribe states: “This is strait-forward scientific bias you are exhibiting. The question is why are you biased in your comments?”
    ———————————-
    H.Kuska comment: Please follow the guidelines
    ============
    “Conjecture: We aim for fact based discussion. Please keep away from making wild accusations and conspiracy theories.”
    ==============
    and discuss the points not “YOUR interpretation of the motive(s) of others.

  41. “Conjecture: We aim for fact based discussion. Please keep away from making wild accusations and conspiracy theories.”

    These accusations are neither wild nor fall into the realm of conspiracy theory.
    Guidelines are there for the owners of the site to use as they see fit, as soon as Karl or Anastasia wish to censor me they are free to in whatever manner they wish. I shall not, however, be abiding by anyone else’s wishes in this regard – it has already been made abundantly clear that the guidelines are simply that and that the people who run the blog will use them judiciously and sparingly as and when they see fit.

  42. Henry,
    Scientific bias is omission of key data. When there is scientific bias, it should and ethically must be pointed out. I am making a factual statement about scientific bias in the selection of pesticide data for discussion. If key relevant points are being missed, it is scientific practice to address them. So it is fully scientifically appropriate to ask you why you are omitting key relevant facts on pesticide use over time in India, and omitting discussing the differences between Bt-cotton adopters and non-cotton adopters?
    If you are unable to do so, the silence will speak for itself. I don’t have to say anything more. I have already posed the question enough times for any reader to understand that it has so far not-been answered by you.
    —–
    H.Kuska comment: We are discussing what is the reality of
    ————————
    “The real success story of GM cotton and ……. in India 2002-2011”.
    In this statement “we” is not accurate. Henry is actually avoiding discussion of the success of Bt-cotton in India.

  43. H.Kuska comment regarding David Tribe’s statement on July 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm
    —————————-
    Would someone please step in. Did I or did I not discuss the poisoning paper on July 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm?

  44. You did
    What is odd that you’re rejecting a statement that presumably made it past reviewers and the editors of a peer reviewed journal.
    Perhaps you should write to the journal with your complaints?
    Although you’ll probably get the same terse response that David gave you – anyone so ignorant of changing pesticide use patterns in India broguht about by Bt probably isn’t in a position to discuss the issue – even the papers you link show a reduction in pesticide use – the only difference to early work being that the magnitude of the reduction is somewhat lower – if I steal $1000 from you this week, and then steal $500 the following week only a fool would argue that due to a reduction in the amount stolen there is no evidence of anything being stolen – and yet this appears to be the arguement you are making.
    Very sloppy thinking.

  45. How to measure success:
    Yields are significantly higher than pre-Bt cotton- success
    Pesticide use decreased between 50% and 70% for a good portion of that period – success
    Pesticide poisonings have been reduced through Bt cotton use – success
    Secondary pests have not decreased yields to pre-Bt levels – success
    Secondary pests will pose future ongoing challenges in maintaining current yield and advancing future yeild – well that’s beyond the 2002-2011 the period we are talking about.
    Resistance to Bt appears to be a concern among some researchers, but it has not impacted the 2002-2011 yeilds – success for the period – to discuss future would be outside the period we are talking about.
    Overall conclusion that I reach – Bt cotton has been successful as the title of the paper suggests.

  46. Henry Kuska comment “I interpret the Richard R cited paper as supporting my statement on July 21, 2011 at 6:57 am”
    Yes you do Henry, but as I have pointed out in my July 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm post, this paper has been incorrectly cited by others as well. You have

  47. Repost:
    Henry Kuska comment “I interpret the Richard R cited paper as supporting my statement on July 21, 2011 at 6:57 am”
    Yes you do Henry, but as I have pointed out in my July 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm post, this paper has been incorrectly cited by others as well. You have “misinterpreted…that this pest (Helicoverpa armigera)has already developed resistance to Bt-cotton and the technology is not effective.”
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/10mar2011/604.pdf
    Perhaps it was missed the first time because it was on the bottom of page 604 and the top of page 605.
    As I have stated above, dealing with Bt resistance is a stewardship issue and should be taken seriously. It does not mean that the technology was not successful over the 2002-2011 period and as I demonstrate in my peer reviewed letter, it does not mean the technology is or has been ineffective.

  48. Richard R stated on July 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm · How to measure success:
    Then he listed (without documentation) “points” for which he feels Bt cotton was successful.
    ————————————
    H.Kuska comment. I will just discuss “Pesticide use decreased between 50% and 70% for a good portion of that period – success.”
    Pesticide is a general term for all of the following: fungicides, herbicides and insecticides. The following India “overview” separates fungicide data from insecticide data. It also has a catagory called “others”. Is “others” herbicides???. I feel that fungicide use should be excluded as I do not see how Bt-cotton use could affect fungicide use.
    In Karnatake, India this “overview” states that official government data are:
    SEASON 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
    Insecticides 1216 1008 1240 1406 1444-projected? (Unit in million tonnes).
    One sees from 2005-2006 to 2006-2007 a 17% reduction, but from 2006-2007 to 2007-2008 one sees a 23% increase, and from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009 one sees a 13% increase. Since the 2009-2010 data were projected, I will stop here.
    The following statement was made by the author: “Insecticide usage in Karnataka in cotton crop has actually increased as per the official NALMOT data presented in this review.”
    From:
    http://indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/review_of_bt_cotton_in_karnataka.pdf

  49. Sorry Henry, I faild to cite you
    Henry Kuska stated at July 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm
    “Richard R on July 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm presented a link to a paper given at a meeting that presented numbers for pesticide use from 2002 to 2008. Other papers give different numbers ( 50 to 70 percent reduction seems to cover the ranges cited).”
    I didn’t realize I needed to cite your confirmation that the range of decrease was 50%-70%.
    My paper – cited above and confirmed by you, states that over the period 2002 to 2008, pesticide used decreased by 50%. If the consensus of papers you read was 50% to 70%, well all the better.

  50. Oh, and Ewan already pointed out that review of Karna Taka data was not peer reviewed.

  51. Richard R on July 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm stated: “Oh, and Ewan already pointed out that review of Karna Taka data was not peer reviewed.”
    ———————–
    H.Kuska comment. I do not think that there a need to peer review government data. I am using the data. If you have evidence that the data are in error please provide the reference(s).

  52. H.Kuska comment. I do not think that there a need to peer review government data. I am using the data. If you have evidence that the data are in error please provide the reference(s).
    ____
    I am not going to scour the internet to support or deny raw data, which is purported to be government, and build a case for it being taken in or out of context for the specifics of the region. I will leave that to peer review. I have provided a peer reviewed journal citing a 50% decline in pesticide use over the 2002 to 2008 period. Why would the editors of that peer reviewed journal allow such a comment if it were not true?

  53. Henry, since things have bounced around a lot, could you please summarize your basic objection to Bt cotton to avoid possible confusion about your position?

  54. ———————————–
    Richard R July 22, 2011 at 5:41 am stated once again 2002 to to 2008 information. I did not question that. Why do I consider that as insufficient to declare Bt-cotton a winner in the pesticide use question?
    ———————————
    Perhaps an example will be useful. I can state that Wall Street stock XXX gained 50 % from 2002 to 2008. What does that tell me about the year differences from, say, 2006 to 2008? Nothing, and it also tells me nothing about the years since. The point of the “Nature is complex” and “can adapt” theme is that the situation in India (and also in China) is that recently pesticide use is increasing. Apparently Nature IS adapting. Not tomorrow but in the present and very recent past. Please see:
    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/jws/ps/2011/00000067/00000008/art00004
    “RESULTS: The results provide evidence that resistance to Cry1Ac had evolved by 2008 in a population sampled from non-Bt cotton in the Amreli district of Gujarat in western India. The median lethal concentration of Cry1Ac for five-day-old larvae (LC50) was significantly higher for insects derived in 2008 from Amreli than for any of the other field populations tested from four locations in India. For Cry1Ac, the mean LC50 for the strain derived from Amreli in 2008 was 44 times higher than for the most susceptible population. However, for seed powder of Bollgard II containing primarily Cry2Ab2, the 2008 Amreli population was only slightly less susceptible than the most susceptible population.”

  55. —————————————
    the bug guy on July 22, 2011 at 6:18 am stated “Henry, since things have bounced around a lot, could you please summarize your basic objection to Bt cotton to avoid possible confusion about your position?”
    —————————-
    H.Kuska reply. I do not think “objection” is appropriate. I feel that you and I are on the same page in trying to explain how Nature operates in the “real world”.
    ———————-
    I would like to point out that the initial statement was “added to” after the comments were started. I do not think that is a good practice and perhaps has added to the “bouncing around” problem that you are/have observed.

  56. I feel that fungicide use should be excluded as I do not see how Bt-cotton use could affect fungicide use.

    It could in that insect damage leads to opportunities for fungal infection.
    However – I agree with Henry in this case that when discussing Bt the only reductions that matter are insecticide sprays – although, given that one would not expect it to have any effect whatsoever on herbicide and fungicide use one would expect that this would skew the numbers further .
    Also I’d think that one would want to look at comparisons of Bt vs non-Bt rather than useage in general (within a given year, and see if this trend holds across years) – it is quite plausible that regulation of a toxic substance within the time period of Bt useage would cause a massive reduction in use of that substance – attempting to credit this to Bt would be dishonest. (notably the recent Qaim paper on poisonings looks at precisely this comparison).
    We also must keep in mind that we cannot attribute all of the gains which Richard R puts forward to Bt cotton either.
    India has seen significant gains in cotton productivity, and Bt has been a driver in this, but, I think, not the major driver – Bt hybrids outperform non-Bt hybrids generally, but both are vastly superior to non-hybrids, thus you have to acknowledge that yield gains come from both.
    Pesticide use decreases I think can largely be attributed to Bt – Henry may have a point that ‘pesticide’ is too broad a definition, but given that insecticide use accounts for over 65% (if I remember the nubmers right) of pesticide use on cotton, and cotton pesticide use accounts for an ungodly proportion of Indian pesticide use the two are inextricably linked anyway – and when the insecticide data is examined one does see dramatic declines (one aspect to note here is that insecticide use fluctuates in non-Bt crops with the presence of the pest, whereas in general insecticide use stays more stable in Bt cotton – so, one would expect in a mostly cotton producing area that eventually you may even reach spray parity not because of increased secondary pests, but simply, as has been seen in the US, because the vast amount of Bt cotton essentially gives non-Bt cotton herd immunity)
    Not only is the Karna Taka data not peer reviewed – the report is from a clearly biased source, the combination of the two makes the data highly suspect (and frankly if the region is an outlier in the broader picture in India (which it is if one assumes the data is correct) then how much attention does it warrant?) – you’ll note that they use the unfair comparison of simply reporting overall insecticide data – without comparing Bt to non-Bt cotton in the Karna Taka region you can draw zero conclusions about the Bt cottons effect on insecticide use – year to year comparisons of insecticide use are frankly meaningless given the massive fluctuations in pest pressure year on year combined with weather, shifting prices of commodities etc.

  57. Perhaps an example will help. Decrease of 50% from 2002 to 2008, followed by an increase of 13% in 2009 (your data) is still better than pre-2002 levels. (100%-50% = 50%+13%=56%).
    Nature is complex – agreed. Nature can adapt – agreed.
    Do incidents of emerging resistance in pink bollworm mean 2002-2011 was unsuccessful. Not necessarily. Ewan has provided a paper indicating methods for adapting to the resistance.
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/25jul2011/146.pdf
    I have provided evidence that citing incidents of resistance does not mean the technology was or is ineffective
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/10mar2011/604.pdf
    This citation also highlights that others have misinterpreted this resistance as being an indication of ineffectiveness. Conclusion, Bt is not ineffective, therefore successful. Are there issues that need to be addressed for the continued effectiveness of Bt – yes, I would agree with that. Should they be addressed now – yes, I would agree with that.

  58. Ewan R on July 22, 2011 at 7:48 am stated: “you’ll note that they use the unfair comparison of simply reporting overall insecticide data”.
    ————————————
    H.Kuska reply. Yes I noticed; comparing recent Bt and non Bt would be better. Do you have recent India data that does that comparison? The review cited later gives only to 2007.
    ————————————-
    On the point of the data possibly being misquoted (“data highly suspect”). If the government data were cited incorrectly, I would have expected that companies with a financial interest would of been “all over it”.
    ————————————-
    Regarding: “year to year comparisons of insecticide use are frankly meaningless given the massive fluctuations in pest pressure year on year combined with weather, shifting prices of commodities etc.”
    H.Kuska comment: yes, that is why one looks for trends. When looking for trends one does not look just at one starting point and one ending point. There could of been a very high year starting point and a very low year ending point. At best, scientists would look at the yearly data points and formally describe the mathamatical fit of the slope. Unfortunately we do not have enough data point to do this. So an “eye ball” examination is used to see if there is one trend, two trends (such as an early down trend followed by a later up trend), or complete random noise.
    ———————————–
    As an interesting aside for the general reader. A literature source, cited in http://edepot.wur.nl/166665 (warning the link is to a 166 page report) states that the difference between insecticide use in the U.S. in 2007 was only 6.7% (between Bt cotton users and non Bt cotton users). On pages 87-88 are additional data about insectide reductions, unfortunately my cut and paste will not work with this report. The report is dated April 2011 but it appears that the literature collection stops in 2010 (I used “find” command on the papers cited)..

  59. Richard you still cite a reference that I feel has been refuted by my statement on July 22, 2011 at 6:28 am: “Apparently Nature IS adapting. Not tomorrow but in the present and very recent past. Please see:
    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/jws/ps/2011/00000067/00000008/art00004
    “RESULTS: The results provide evidence that resistance to Cry1Ac had evolved by 2008 in a population sampled from non-Bt cotton in the Amreli district of Gujarat in western India. The median lethal concentration of Cry1Ac for five-day-old larvae (LC50) was significantly higher for insects derived in 2008 from Amreli than for any of the other field populations tested from four locations in India. For Cry1Ac, the mean LC50 for the strain derived from Amreli in 2008 was 44 times higher than for the most susceptible population. However, for seed powder of Bollgard II containing primarily Cry2Ab2, the 2008 Amreli population was only slightly less susceptible than the most susceptible population.”
    Can you explain why this article is not pertinent?

  60. I did:
    Do incidents of emerging resistance in pink bollworm mean 2002-2011 was unsuccessful. Not necessarily. Ewan has provided a paper indicating effective methods for adapting to the resistance.
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/25jul2011/146.pdf
    I have provided evidence that citing incidents of resistance (albeit, not pink bollworm)does not mean the technology was or is ineffective
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/10mar2011/604.pdf
    Resistance studies have been “misinterpreted and publicized by certain NGOs and the media that this pest (Helicoverpa armigera)has already developed resistance to Bt-cotton and the technology is not effective.”
    Are there issues that need to be addressed for the continued effectiveness of Bt – yes, I would agree with that. Should they be addressed now – yes, I would agree with that.
    I also agree that Bt in and of itself was not solely responsible for yield gains as others have pointed out. Much of that credit is due to hybrids. However, yeild gain was achieved and this is part of the success of cotton in India over the last 10 years.

  61. Note for clarity – I did not say the article was not pertinent, what I do say is that the article does not mean Bt cotton has been unsuccessful for 2002-2011.
    I do address the pertinence of the article in my statement citing Ewan R and citing that this is an issue that should be addressed to maintain effectiveness.

  62. The additional data show massive differences in insecticide use across countries and years for users of Bt cotton – I wonder to what extent the small difference in US cotton is down to the herd immunity effect of Bt (as covered in the recent nature paper on the suject)
    Some perspective:-
    2002-2007 study in India – 40% reduction
    2998-2001 study in South Africa 40-63% reduction
    2002-2004 study in South Africa 35% reduction in pyrethenoids but no change in organophosphates.
    2003 Argentina – 57-66% reduction
    Australia saw a 69% reduction in the 2009 report which states the 6.7% for the US

    H.Kuska comment: yes, that is why one looks for trends. When looking for trends one does not look just at one starting point and one ending point.

    Devoid of Bt vs non Bt data trends are useless here – a 4 year trend for reduced insecticide use could simply be due to there being less insects pressure – it could be due to adoption of Bt, there’s no way of saying – increased overall spraying could be down to Bt failing, could be due entirely just to spraying on non-Bt crops, or could be an increase in insect pressure from an insect that Bt doesn’t effect.

    On the point of the data possibly being misquoted (“data highly suspect”). If the government data were cited incorrectly, I would have expected that companies with a financial interest would of been “all over it”.

    Why? It appears to be a relatively inconsequential report from an environmentalist group – had it received massive press or such then perhaps one might expect some response – but a piece focussing on a single isolated region in India which I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else… I wouldn’t expect it to generate any sort of response (amidst a sea of insane claims around Bt what is one or two more added to the mix?)

  63. There is something like an axiom among entomologists that, given time, insects will develop resistance to any control method applied. What is important is to use methods to reduce the resistance risk and to monitor pest populations for when it does occur so that you can take actions to counter the resistance.
    Just because some populations have developed resistance doesn’t mean that a control method has been a failure. With proper management, control strategies can remain productive decades after the first resistance was detected.

  64. the bug guy stated on July 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm · “Just because some populations have developed resistance doesn’t mean that a control method has been a failure. With proper management, control strategies can remain productive decades after the first resistance was detected.”
    ————————————–
    H.Kuska comment: we are talking about what has happened the last few years in India. I have no doubt that what what Ewan referenced will help in developed countries like the U.S., but practically have they helped the last few years in India? This is where the full article that I posted a link to the abstract of
    ————————-
    http://pdj.sagepub.com/content/11/1/63.short
    ———————
    (I feel) is worth reading.
    ———————–
    From the full paper: “For example, recent evidence from China
    (Wang et al., 2006) demonstrates that after seven years, Bt cotton growers on average earned less than conventional cotton-growers
    because of the need for increased pesticide applications to treat the emergence of a previously insignificant pest not susceptible
    to the Bt toxin. Since the study examined over 480 farmers across five major cotton producing provinces, the authors conclude that the increased need for pesticides to treat the new cotton pest, mirids, was not linked to similar agro-ecological conditions. Instead,
    they suggest that the precise targeting of the Bt toxin to Helicoverpa spp. opened up niche space for the emergence of a previously harmless insect not repelled by Bt.
    But the emergence of secondary pests is not the only worrisome likely consequence of Bt cotton adoption. More recently, Chinese researchers found a high incidence of resistance to the Bt toxin among bollworms in Bt cotton fields in Qiuxian County, Hebei, China (Liu et al., 2008). Producers have planted Bt cotton continuously for 10 years in this area of China. Liu et al. (2008) claim that a lack of pest management measures – primarily refugia6 – are to blame for the high levels of pest resistance.7 Resistance may have been easier to evolve in the Chinese example, since unlike the Bt cotton grown in Burkina, which contains two Bt toxins, Chinese varietals only contain one Bt toxin. However, recent research (Tabashnik et al., 2009) suggests
    that resistance to Bt cotton containing two toxins can still occur. In the words of the lead researcher of these experiments, ‘[Regardless
    of the number of Bt toxins present] evolution by insects is not something that scientists are going to stop’ (Ledford, 2009).
    Of particular concern are pests that would normally be controlled by pesticides to be substituted by the Bt toxin, but that may only be moderately repelled by it. In Burkina Faso, conventional cotton requires six pesticide spray applications during the growing season. Bt adopters will be advised to spray only twice during the season to control sucking bugs that are not repelled by the Bt toxin. These two pesticide applications, however, will not repel the cotton leafworm,
    Spodoptera littoralis, and, though the Bt toxin is thought to moderately repel the cotton leafworm, Burkinabe researchers have yet
    to test its effectiveness (Héma et al., 2009). Interviews with Burkinabe actors involved in the introduction of Bt cotton confirm that they have observed increased levels of the cotton leafworm on Bt cotton fields. If the cotton leafworm emerges as a significant pest of Bt cotton this would require additional pesticide applications and thereby erode any potential profit gains from the adoption of Bt cotton. In short, the promotion of Bt cotton must consider the longer term consequences of pest resistance, and secondary pest dynamics,
    including the costs of spraying broad-spectrum pesticides on refugia and Bt cotton crops to control the emergence of secondary pests
    (Liu et al., 2008; Wang et al., 2006).8”
    ————————————
    Please note that the authors are from: Department of Environmental Studies University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
    AND
    Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies
    Michigan State University, USA

  65. Also – Bt has not been unsuccessful for the 2002 to 2011 period because of the following comment in the article cited by Henry:
    “However, for seed powder of Bollgard II containing primarily Cry2Ab2, the 2008 Amreli population was only slightly less susceptible than the most susceptible population.”
    Bollgard II (i.e. one form of Bt Cotton) is still working, in this isolated geography of India. Post is on the success of Bt cotton in India, not the success or failure of one of the genes in a limited geography.
    Again, I will state that:
    Are there issues that need to be addressed for the continued effectiveness of Bt – yes, I would agree with that. Should they be addressed now – yes, I would agree with that.
    I will also state – Bt has been successful in India.

  66. Richard R stated on July 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm · “Also – Bt has not been unsuccessful for the 2002 to 2011 period because of the following comment in the article cited by Henry:
    “However, for seed powder of Bollgard II containing primarily Cry2Ab2, the 2008 Amreli population was only slightly less susceptible than the most susceptible population.”
    Bollgard II (i.e. one form of Bt Cotton) is still working, in this isolated geography of India. Post is on the success of Bt cotton in India, not the success or failure of one of the genes in a limited geography.”
    ———————————-
    H.Kuska comment: This is not unexpected. The newer stacked version(s) are expected to have a time lag before problems are noticed.
    We are splitting hairs here. What you are saying (in my mind) is “partial success” of newest version, so far.

  67. I’ll take that Henry. From you I will accept partial success as about as far as we can go together on this issue. I interpret “only slightly less susceptible than the most susceptible population” as ongoing success. I will no longer split hairs as we appear to have achieved consensus on that there has been success in this aspect. Relative scale of success (partial as you state, or ongoing as I state) to be left to the reader.

  68. Sorry that did not come out as intended.
    We are splitting hairs here. What you are saying (in my mind) is “partial success” of Bt cottons because the newest version, so far, has not had time to cause the emergence of insect resistance.
    That does not speak to increases in pests which are not affected by Bt which (so far) would result in increased spraying.

  69. Thank you Henry. I stand by my last comment, and I am sure you stand by yours.
    It has been a pleasure and I have to thank you for leading me to a variety of articles on different aspects of cotton in India that I would not otherwise have read.

  70. ——————————–
    Ewan R on July 22, 2011 at 10:09 am stated:
    “2002-2007 study in India – 40% reduction”
    —————————————-
    The above did not come from a reviewed scientific paper. The overall 40% reduction number came from questionaire data.
    Insecticide use
    -50% (2002-03)
    -51% (2004-05)
    -21% (2006-07)
    -41% (average)
    Of particular interest is the mean and standard deviation (SD in brackets) on the number of insecticide sprays:
    2002-03 for Bt 4.18 SD(3.28); for non Bt 6.79 (3.64)
    2004-05 for Bt 4.60 (3.10); for non Bt 7.22 (4.71)
    2006-07 for Bt 3.29 (2.19); for non Bt 3.77 (2.39)
    —————
    Also the mean and standard deviation for Insectide use (kg/acre)
    2002-03 for Bt 2.07 (2.65); for non Bt 4.17 (3.37)
    2004-05 for Bt 2.05 (2.68); for non Bt 4.19 (10.48)
    2006-07 for Bt 1.22 (1.41); for non Bt 1.55 (1.51)

  71. Sorry – one more item.
    Re:
    My final above comment stands re: your question at July 22, 2011 at 9:49 am.
    Can you explain why this article is not pertinent?
    I have now explained why that article does not indicate that Bt cotton has been unsuccessful over the 2002 to 2011 period. You say partial success, I say ongoing success.
    “That does not speak to increases in pests which are not affected by Bt which (so far) would result in increased spraying.”
    I overlooked this in your 1:35 pm post as I thought we moved on.
    On the issue of increases in secondary pests and increased spraying I will stand by my comments of July 22, 2011 at 7:48 am. Others have addressed the spraying as well.

  72. Scratching my head here, but I seem to recall that the pests controlled by Bt cotton are also carnivorous, i’e., eat other bugs. Kill the target insect, and its prey runs amok in cotton. Which suggests that Bt tech is *too targeted*.
    Maybe the bug guy (regular contributor here) can dredge something up on this aspect.

  73. The Lepidoptera larva affected by the Bt toxin are not carnivorous. The primary way they could harm other pest insects would be by outcompeting them by eating the host plants faster. Because of the comparatively low protein content of most plant leaves and similar tissues, Lepidoptera larvae usually have to consume comparatively large amounts to get adequate nutrition. Thus, causing considerable damage to the plant in a short amount of time. This can often drive other insects seeking food to go elsewhere the way some grazers can consume so much prairie grass so fast that they force other animals to leave the area.

  74. Not unreasonable and it looks like it agrees with what I was saying about proper management. I’m on vacation, so don’t have my institutional access, so I haven’t been able to check a lot of the papers mentioned. However, your quote indicates to me that there is a need to refine pest control methods to properly address the changes noted in other pest insect populations. That is why this kind of research is regularly conducted.
    One thing in the quote that bothers me is this:

    “Bt adopters will be advised to spray only twice during the season to control sucking bugs that are not repelled by the Bt toxin. These two pesticide applications, however, will not repel the cotton leafworm”

    This looks like a recommendation for a fixed pesticide application schedule, which is in direct opposition to IPM principles. Fixed applications often will miss the target insect temporally and usually requires application over the entire crop – an expensive operation. IPM would have the crops scouted for the pest and applications made only to infested areas when they are located. It requires a little more up-front trained staff labor, but it often can result in considerable reduction in spraying and therefore, generate a cost savings for the farmer.
    I would say that to date, Bt cotton has mostly been a success, but farmers can’t rest on their laurels. As insects change and adapt, the farmers will also need to change and adapt to meet them. This has been the history of farming.

  75. Prior to using Bt cotton, it looks like the farmers were making up to six broad area applications of insecticides to control the bollworm. It is almost certain that these applications were also knocking down other crop pest species at the same time. Once this heavy application schedule was stopped, the other species to survive and grow.
    From an environmental standpoint, the heavy schedule also took out a lot of neutral and beneficial insects, so the reduced spraying would result in more of them surviving.

  76. I was in a hurry to post the July 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm post as we had an electrical storm approaching and omitted the reference.
    —————————–
    The reference for the India 40% 2002-2007 reduction paper is:
    ————————-
    Title: “Effects of Bt Cotton in India During the First Five Years of Adoption”
    Authors and affiliations:
    Prakash SADASHIVAPPA∗
    Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences,
    University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
    AND
    Matin QAIM
    Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development,
    Georg-August-University of Goettingen, Germany
    No Journal.
    Link (I do not know if this link is available to the general public):
    http://environmentportal.in/files/EffectsofBtcottoninIndia.pdf

  77. A general note when discussing insecticide applications. Simply discussing number of applications of overall amounts of pesticides often will give a very incomplete picture. For an accurate picture, relative toxicity of materials applied must be taken into account. If you are discussing economics, the relative cost of different materials will also need to be noted.
    For example, if a farmer is able to stop applying a Toxicity Class I pesticide, but needs to make two applications of a Toxicity Class III pesticide, there is generally a net environmental benefit to the change even though the farmer is “spraying more” because of the lower toxicity and generally fewer nontarget effects of the Class III material.
    Another thing to note is what type of spraying is being used. A couple of targeted applications to only areas of a crop infested with a pest will have less environmental effect than a single, whole-crop application of the same material.

  78. I did not include the sample sizes in my earlier post on July 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm. Here I have included the sample sizes and my calculated p values using a two sample independent unequal variance t test.
    —————————-
    The mean, standard deviation (SD in brackets), sample size (ss), and p value on the number of insecticide sprays:
    —————————–
    2002-03 for Bt 4.18, SD(3.28), ss 133, ; for non Bt 6.79, (3.64), ss 301,
    p<0.0000001
    ——————
    2004-05 for Bt: mean 4.60, SD(3.10), ss 165,
    for non Bt: mean 7.22, SD(4.71), ss 300
    p<0.0000001
    ———————
    2006-07 for Bt: mean 3.29, SD(2.19), ss 317
    for non Bt: mean 3.77, SD(2.39), ss 56
    p=0.18
    —————
    The same for mean, standard deviation, and sample size for Insectide use (kg/acre)
    2002-03 for Bt: mean 2.07, SD(2.65), ss 133
    for non Bt: mean 4.17, SD(3.37), ss 301
    p<0.0000001
    ————————
    2004-05 for Bt: mean 2.05, SD(2.68), ss 165
    for non Bt: mean 4.19, SD(10.48), ss 300
    p=0.0009
    ————————-
    2006-07 for Bt: mean 1.22, SD(1.41), ss 317
    for non Bt: mean 1.55, SD(1.51), ss 56
    p=0.13
    ==================================
    As reference points as to the sensitivity of the p test I set up a number of reference calculations all using sample sizes of 200.
    ————————-
    Group A, mean 5.00, SD(5.0)
    Group B, mean 5.10, SD(5.0)
    p=0.8416
    ———————–
    Group A, mean 5.00, SD(5.0)
    Group B, mean 5.50, SD(5.0)
    p=0.3179
    ————————-
    Group A, mean 5.00, SD(5.0)
    Group B, mean 6.00, SD(5.0)
    p=0.04618
    —————————
    Group A, mean 5.00, SD(5.0)
    Group B, mean 7.00, SD(5.0)
    p=0.0007553
    —————————
    Group A, mean 5.00, SD(5.0)
    Group B, mean 10.00, SD(5.0)
    p<0.0000001
    ======================
    A small p value (0.05 and lower) suggests that the 2 different experimentally determined means are real. A high (above 0.05) p value suggests that the observed differences in the two means may not be real but instead due to normal finite sampling scatter.
    =====================
    Thus, I suggest that in the 2006-2007 season no statistically significant difference should be claimed between the pesticide usage parameters (means) for Bt-cotton and non Bt-cotton. It is unfortunate that they did not wait for 2007-2008 data to see if 2006-2007 was an exception.

  79. ———————————–
    This is a very recent, very impressive (to me) report.
    ——————————
    http://indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/economic_performance_report_en.pdf
    ——————————————-
    “3. Results from the literature review
    Bt cotton
    There is substantial evidence that the adoption of Bt cotton provides economic benefits for farmers in a number of countries. These benefits arise mostly from increased yields due to limited damage incurred via insect pests (most notably the bollworm complex) while reducing costs through lower use levels of insecticide (South Africa, India, USA, China, Argentina, and Mexico).
    There is evidence that other factors such as more efficient production methods used by farmers adopting Bt cotton have an impact on the outcome, resulting in a self-selection bias. Moreover, research shows that the education level of the farmers has a significant positive effect on the technical and cost efficiencies of the farm. Similarly, the field size has a positive impact on the performance of the Bt cotton.
    However, the choice of the variety of cotton used as ‘ in the comparison has a significant impact on the relative performance of the Bt cotton. Results from India show, that not all Bt cotton varieties are equally suitable for all climatic conditions, which can lead to Bt yields below the yields of conventional varieties grown by farmers.
    Additionally, many farmers, particularly those in India and China, keep using the same amount of pesticides and thus do not benefit from lower pest control costs, mostly due to lack of information and training.
    Bt cotton is effective overall in reducing the risks of production, although there was some evidence that the technology increases output risks, mostly due to the lack of an Integrated Pest Management System. Moreover, the additional seed costs mean that significant economic benefits are only achieved when pest pressure is high.
    The availability of a diverse range of Bt cotton varieties has supported successful adoption in countries such as China and Mexico, where institutional support has also played a significant role.
    Bt cotton adoption is still relatively new, so it is difficult to extrapolate current and past results into the future. In particular, uncertainty about future pest pressure contributes to a high level of uncertainty about economic benefits. Climate change predictions suggest a general increase of pest pressure in many regions.”

  80. There is reduction in the usage o pesticides. But the reduction tn the usage because using most powerful chemical combinations.
    Calculate the pesticide reduction not from quantity used but the amount of value is it decreased or not.

  81. Yes that’s a useful report Henry, but they dont seem to be all that expert on cotton as they mis out on Australia which has been growing GM cotton for about 17 years now.
    These links are useful too,
    Economics review
    http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/2010/11/economics-of-genetically-modified-crops.html
    56 posts at GMO Pundit on the topic
    http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/search/label/Cotton
    I have been following the topic quite closely for twenty years now, and I actually talk to farmers and visit farms. I findfind that adds extra wrinkles to what you get from scientific journals.

  82. If there’s a bad disconnect in the narrative involving GM crops, it’s between academics and farmers. Dr. Tribe should be applauded for reaching out to farmers. There are also highly valuable extension programs from universities that reach out to farmers as part of their mission.
    Farmer accounts of the value of biotech should, in an ideal world where everyone is rational, be respected as more conclusive than anything else.
    They feed us and don’t want to starve in the process.

  83. —————————
    GMO Pundit stated on July 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm · “Yes that’s a useful report Henry, but they dont seem to be all that expert on cotton as they mis out on Australia which has been growing GM cotton for about 17 years now.”
    ——————————-
    H.Kuska comment.
    The review stated: “4. Results of statistical analysis on major GM crops
    Bt cotton……..”In countries where crops are well adapted to local
    conditions and pesticide control is efficient (e.g. Australia), Bt cotton shows the lowest net-benefit.”

  84. Henry,
    You need to be aware of the differential impacts of agro biotech on different farmers in different economies.
    In North America, the farmers stay on the cutting edge of technology, year after year. For those farmers, biotech crops are a fair amount better than what they were doing before.
    In developing nations, the introduction of biotech crops is a stupendous leap forward, massively improving yields and farmer income.

  85. Eric Baumholder July 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm stated “Henry, You need to be aware of the differential impacts of agro biotech on different farmers in different economies.
    —————————————————
    H.Kuska reply: It is my impression that the references that I have provided have adequately covered your above statement.

  86. I’m interested then, as Biofortified is touted as more of a community than simply a place to bicker about the nuances of various scientific papers…
    What, Henry, are your personal feelings on Bt cotton in India, do you feel it has been succesful in the past 10 years, do you figure it has likely reduced insecticide use, raised farmer income, increased yields?
    Clearly it appears there are some minor quibbles about magnitude of effect, and the potential longevity – but that taken into account, and set aside for a moment, I’m deeply intruiged as to what you feel, in your own words, sans references and quasi-cryptic commentary.

  87. —————————–
    Ewan asked: “What, Henry, are your personal feelings on Bt cotton in India, do you feel it has been succesful in the past 10 years, do you figure it has likely reduced insecticide use, raised farmer income, increased yields?”
    ——————————–
    H. Kuska reply. For each of those questions I would answer yes, no, and maybe (4 questions, 12 answers). I am not trying to be funny. Nature is complex and and there are too many variables (and not enough reliable research) to come up with one answer for each of your 4 questions for an area as diverse as India (both climate wise and population wise).
    ———————————–

  88. I think that this (looks very well executed) detailed 1996 U.S. research paper of a small rather homogenous area (Arzonia) can help the reader understand the frustration with the research available.
    —————————————–
    http://www.pnas.org/content/103/20/7571.full
    —————————————–
    http://www.pnas.org/content/103/20/7571/suppl/DC1
    ——————————————–
    It was a 2 year study. The first year the Bt-cotton farmers used 52% of the amount of insecticide used on the regular cotton; but the second year the percentage was 75%. Unfortunately the study did not include a third or a forth year, so we cannot say whether the upward trend was meaningful.

  89. The following was the explanation given for the rise in insecticide use the second year in the Arizona study.
    —————————
    “Thus, the rise in insecticide use in transgenic cotton in the second year of the study (Fig. 1) probably reflects an increasing need to control these two pests.”
    ========================
    The other point pertinent to this thread is:
    —————————
    ” However, no overall yield difference occurred among nonTr, Bt, and BtHr cotton (P = 0.96).”

  90. In addition to the overall success of GM insect protected cotton on India, which — summing over the whole country — has had massive beneficial health, environmental and economic net benefits which Henry does not refute by anecdotes of particulars, there is also similar overviews of enivironmental aspects of insect protected GM Bt maize in Spain now summarised by a governmental report
    http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/2011/07/spain-confirms-from-12-years-of-farmer.html
    Full report in Spanish here
    Doce años de estudios por parte del MARM confirman que el maíz transgénico Bt no tiene efectos negativos sobre el medio ambiente
    http://punditogmtribe.blogspot.com/2011/07/doce-anos-de-estudios-por-parte-del.html
    David TRibe

  91. This article may be of interest”
    http://www.agriculturetimes.com.pk/news-eng-detail.php?id=136
    “In north India, after introduction of over 270 Bt hybrids, the leaf curl virus, which affected three million bales of cotton in Pakistan, has once again started re-appearing and is becoming a major issue for cotton cultivators. Besides, bollworms have also started resurfacing on Bt cotton. “

  92. Henry, I am puzzled about your motivation. You seem interested in raising every doubt about genetically modified plants and their value. That, in itself, is OK. Skepticism is what keeps science from advancing blindly into error. And you clearly understand what you are posting about. But your skepticism doesn’t seem to extend to doubts about the downside of GMO plants. You’re never there with skeptical remarks about morgellons, bee deaths, antibiotic resistance transfers, Seralini’s statistics, Ermakova’s rat deaths, or any of the other wild claims.

  93. Henry,
    You need to be skeptical about newspaper accounts, especially those that make claims about GM crops without quoting someone.
    Over in Kenya, the latest claim is that GM corn causes cancer of the reproductive organs. No quote or cite there, either.
    In the Philippines, a few years back, Greenpeace started a rumor that GM corn caused homosexuality. It was widely accepted in the press and elsewhere. In one case, a Filipina was granted a divorce from her husband since had been seen entering a corn field and therefore could no longer function as a husband.
    Somebody ought to compile a database of this stuff.

  94. The emergence of this virus problem was pointed out very early in this thread in the 3 part link provided by Rajan Alexander on
    July 15, 2011 at 11:40 am · “As Bt Cotton turns 10, observational data certifies it a Super-Flop: Part III”
    —————–
    How is the virus spread? See the link below.
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/jun102005/1803.pdf
    ———————-
    So it appears that when one stops general spraying, a virus carrying insect is allowed to multiply (also monoculture probably contributes). Nature is complex.

  95. Several additional points about plant viruses.
    ———————————
    Plants have immune systems that fight viruses. It is possible that the cotton strains which were used in developing the Bt-cotton did not have optimized immune systems against this virus.
    ———————————
    Plant virus immune systems are often temperature dependent. i.e. they work better in higher temperature regions. If northern India is cooler, this would help explain why it is reemerging there.
    ————————————–
    http://home.roadrunner.com/~kuska/high_temperature_effect_on_pnrsv.htm

  96. “Recent devastating epidemics in Pakistan and other areas have brought new awareness to the potential for disaster of a pathogen once considered to be of a minor importance. Under changing conditions this pathogen(cotton leaf curl virus) has emerged as a serious problem in Pakistan and India.”
    ——————————————-
    http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/crops/az1006/az100610f.html
    =================================
    Some varieties of cotton are more resistant to whitefly attack than others.
    ———————————–
    http://www.pjlss.edu.pk/pdf_files/2009_2/144-147.pdf

  97. —————————————-
    https://www.agronomy.org/publications/cs/abstracts/42/6/2137
    ——————————————-
    “Abstract
    Epidemics of cotton leaf curl virus disease (CLCD) was the compelling factor in the decision to devise new strategies for cotton breeding programs of Pakistan. The genetic similarity among the elite cotton (Gossypium spp.) cultivars released before the advent of CLCD epidemics was in the range of 81.5 to 93.41%. New cultivars were developed by crossing the exotic resistant germplasm (LRA-5166, CP-15/2, and Cedix) with adapted varieties highly susceptible to CLCD. A study was designed to assess the genetic relatedness or diversity among the newly released, extremely resistant and resistant cultivars. After screening 27 cotton genotypes by different diagnostic methods such as field evaluation, whitefly-transmission studies, grafting, dot-blot hybridization, and multiplex PCR using conserved primers sequences, 20 extremely resistant and resistant cultivars were selected for a random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis. The genetic similarity of the exotic germplasm with the elite cultivars was in the range of 81.45 to 90.59%. Similarly, the genetic relatedness among the elite cultivars was in the range of 81.58 to 94.90%. The average genetic similarity among all studied genotypes was 89.55%. We have demonstrated that only cultivar VH-137 possesses a diverse genetic background. Our study suggests the need to breed for high genetic diversity to serve as a buffer against potential epidemics.”
    ——————————————–
    The full paper may be available from the abstract. Look on the left side.

  98. Nature is complex, but you seem to keep coming back to supporting heavy, broad-area pesticide applications to knock out the majority of insects in a crop, pest, non-pest or beneficial.
    Challenges to crops have changed over time from the beginning of agriculture and we have had to adapt to face these challenges. This is what is going on now. The solution is to face these new challenges to develop environmentally responsible solutions, not to fall back on techniques that we know had serious adverse effects on the environment, like heavy, broad-area insecticide applications.

  99. the bug guy stated on July 29, 2011 at 4:51 am: “Nature is complex, but you seem to keep coming back to supporting heavy, broad-area pesticide applications to knock out the majority of insects in a crop, pest, non-pest or beneficial.”
    ————————————
    H.Kuska comment: I am only pointing out the current situation.
    ——————————–
    I grow 1000 foses in a completely no-spray garden. I depend on Nature reaching an equilibrium in about 5 years in which the “friendlies” and the “bad guys” are in equilibrium.
    This choice comes under the heading of “biocontrol” (see my 2008 post in the following thread for ONE of my “many” posts on “biocontrol”.
    —————————-
    http://www.rosehybridizers.org/forum/message.php?topid=16978&rc=22&ui=2503776374
    ——————————–
    The following may be useful as a “biocontrol” summary.
    —————————-
    http://www.entomology.wisc.edu/mbcn/fea303.html
    —————————
    The following is a recent review of the present situation concerning the control of whitefly:
    —————————————–
    “Abstract
    This review presents and discusses the merits of the methodologies ­available for implementing integrated pest management (IPM) of B. tabaci populations: namely, chemical control with selective insecticides, biological control, crop plant resistance and physical/mechanical methods. Insecticides, by their poisonous nature, are often harmful to natural enemies and therefore, disruptive to overall pest management. However, the more modern materials that are effective for B. tabaci control are relatively specific to the target pests, and therefore are less harmful to natural enemies and the environment; consequently, they are also more suitable for integrative combination with other methods. Natural enemies, by themselves, ­usually do not form a suitable solution of B. tabaci- caused problems. However, their occurrence and use greatly reduces the pest’s populations. Since viral plant diseases transmitted by B. tabaci are not curable, the principal tactics for their ­management should be based on prevention of transmission by physical-mechanical methods and/or on utilization of host-plant resistance. The correct implementation of natural enemies will help to reduce whitefly numbers, which can then be more readily ­managed using cultural and, only if necessary, chemical countermeasures. Thus, adopting IPM will alleviate the numerous concerns that accompany the use of chemicals, including those associated with environmental pollution and the widespread resistance that plagues B. tabaci management.”
    —————————————–
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/h753003r90m1tr43/

  100. As an entomologist, I am well aware of biological control, its strengths and its weaknesses. However, you have not been talking about biological control, you have been discussing how reduced spraying for bollworm has allowed for other nontarget pests to arise to a level of concern and the way you have presented it gave the distinct impression that you were advocating for a return to the spraying patterns used prior to the use of Bt cotton.
    If anything, the use of Bt cotton is more consistent and supportive of using biological control to control disease vectors like aphids. Reduced spraying for bollworm allows more aphid predators (either naturally-occurring or introduced) to survive.
    In some cases, you can see a good predator-prey equilibrium develop, but in may other situations, especially in agriculture, you will not see it develop, or it will develop at a level that includes unacceptable amounts of crop damage.

  101. This article is more specific regarding the whitefly – virus problem:
    —————————————
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/q41655h36720m866/
    ——————————-
    “Abstract
    Worldwide outbreaks of Bemisia tabaci whiteflies, especially biotype B, have facilitated the emergence of whitefly-transmitted geminiviruses (WTG). These viruses cause economically important diseases of vegetable and fiber crops, especially in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Because small populations of whiteflies can efficiently spread WTGs, management of these diseases is more challenging than for whiteflies alone. In this chapter, we discuss (1) why WTGs have emerged worldwide, (2) key aspects of the biology of WTGs and B. tabaci, and (3) how these aspects shape the development of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach for these diseases. The generalized IPM package involves strategies for (1) before the growing season, such as the use of virus- and whitefly-free transplants and propagative stock, and resistant varieties; (2) during the growing season, such as whitefly population suppression, roguing virus-infected plants, floating row covers and reflective mulches; and (3) after the growing season, such as region-wide sanitation, weed management and implementation of a host-free period. Different combinations of strategies will be used depending on the crop, cropping system, and properties of the virus and the whitefly vector. This is illustrated with two case ­studies: IPM for WTGs in an annual (tomato) and a perennial (cassava) crop.”

  102. Henry, I’m trying to understand what point you are trying to make.
    Whiteflies as a virus vector is a well-known and widely studied issue that covers a large range of crops and geographic areas.
    The following gives a good idea of how widespread the issue is in just Florida:
    “Bemisia is widely polyphagous, feeding on over 500 species of plants in 74 families.”
    http://entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/leaf/silverleaf_whitefly.htm
    Overall, we are still basically seeing a net benefit. Reduction of broad-spectrum insecticide applications to control cotton bollworms has a wide-ranging benefit, though there are some side-effects, like nontarget pests surviving, like the silverleaf whitefly. However, application of targeted controls, as is recommended for that pest, still results in a net benefit compared to the older spray regime.

  103. the bug guy stated on July 29, 2011 at 9:29 am: “the way you have presented it gave the distinct impression that you were advocating for a return to the spraying patterns used prior to the use of Bt cotton.”
    ———————————
    H.Kuska comment: Please stick within the guidelines of this forum and avoid conjecture. If you feel that there is a reason to question something that I have stated that you feel is my advocating a return to the spraying patterns used prior to the use of Bt cotton, please do so, (using quotes of what I said); and I will attempt to better explain what I actually intended.

  104. When you state things like this:

    So it appears that when one stops general spraying, a virus carrying insect is allowed to multiply (also monoculture probably contributes). Nature is complex.

    You give that impression. However, you have bounced around to so many side issues it is difficult to determine what point you are trying to make. As I had stated in a post a few minutes ago, I am trying to understand what that is.
    So, once again, can you please clarify with a clear, concise statement, please?

  105. And Henry, if you wish to rules lawyer, pleas pay attention to them:

    Conjecture: We aim for fact based discussion. Please keep away from making wild accusations and conspiracy theories.

    I made no wild accusation nor advocated a conspiracy theory. I made an honest misinterpretation based on what you had stated.

  106. the bug guy July 29, 2011 at 10:29 am stated:
    “Henry, I’m trying to understand what point you are trying to make.”
    ———————————-
    The topic is whether Bt-cotton is a success in India during the period 2002-2011. I have tried to point out that initially there was (documented) success but Nature has adjusted and there are are now (documented) problems. I agree that there are advanced IPM procedures that, if applied in India in the future, may make Bt-cotton PART of the solution. But, this thread is about 2002-2011. What I see is that yields are now (2011) about equal, and it appears that insectide use, within experimental error, has returned to the same values as for non Bt-cotton. (If this statement is questioned, please post any studies that cover recent years that show real stastical differences in insecticide use).

  107. Henry,
    You may have an opinion that in the latest years insecticide use has increased,and that the last years crops have been less successful but you haven’t produced comprehensive evidence for your conjecture. The latest yield data for the country as a whole are at record levels, so perhaps you could analyse whole country data. The crop is now near 90% GM, so that conjectured problems in performance would show up at a whole country level.
    You also damage you own credibility by repeating again and again the rather meaningless phase “nature is complex” to every query. It does not carry much specific meaning that is related to particular patterns of ecological behaviour. It tends to suggest you actually don’t know much about India, or care to acknowledge the importance of actual data.
    For example in a hypothetical climate change debate, if to every bit of evidence about global patters, a skeptic said, I don’t believe it, nature is complex, it would get a bit unconvincing if it were repeated 20 times to 20 different bits of evidence.

  108. Thank you.
    To me, the published information is too uneven to make a direct statement that yields have dropped to pre-Bt levels and as I explained before, you can’t just make a judgement based on raw amount of unspecified “pesticides” applied or number of applications.
    Among the various articles linked in this discussion, I think a valuable observation comes from Kouser & Quaim (2011) paper:

    Pesticide use models, which we also estimated with
    fixed-effects specifications, show that Bt cotton has reduced pesticide use by 50%, with savings increasing over time. Strikingly, the largest reductions of 70% occur in the most toxic pesticides belonging to hazard category I

    The last sentence is the most striking. As I had mentioned previously, you cannot look at just raw amounts, you need to also take relative toxicity into account. That is a dramatic decrease in Category I pesticide use. The text also mentions that there was also a reduction in Category II pesticide applications. So, even if there is an overall increase in the use of Category III or IV pesticides, their lower toxicity means that you can have less adverse environmental effects.
    In other cases, such as with increases in silverleaf whitefly, there is only correlation. Whiteflies are often difficult to control with sprays because they often congregate in difficult to spray locations, such as the underside of leaves. Therefore, we can’t be certain that previous bollworm applications were controlling these insects. It is plausible that this is a natural expansion of the host range of the pest. Research would be needed to determine.
    I think that we safely agree that the introduction of Bt cotton has changed the pest populations and control needs of cotton farmers in India. That would be expected. To me, the evidence still points to a net improvement with BT cotton to date. Can this change? I am almost certain that it will in some way. That is why researchers will continue to monitor and study these crop systems.

  109. I do not know if IPM would include attempts to enhance the immune system (in roses some give their sick plants an aspirin).
    ——————————————
    The following may help in the future:
    ——————————
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-07/babs-pid072611.php
    —————————–
    “Professor Beynon concluded “Our discovery suggests that looking for single genes that confer resistance to pests and diseases is not going to be sufficient. Instead, researchers and breeders will have to work together to produce plants with robust networks of genes that can withstand attack.”
    ————————
    AND
    —————————
    “Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive, BBSRC said “Understanding the fundamental bioscience of plants is critical if we are to develop new ways of producing sustainable, safe, and nutritious food for a growing population. This discovery opens up a whole realm of possibilities in research about plant-pathogen interactions. It also points the way to new ways of working in this area; with a complex network operating behind the scenes in plant immunity, there is a clear need to take a systems approach to future research.”
    ——————————-
    H.Kuska comment. If you are a graduate student that has not picked a research project yet, this area sounds like one to consider.

  110. Henry,
    It has long been known that some traits are more complex than others. The only thing that’s new is the increasingly powerful tools that allow complex traits to be examined.

  111. I do not know if IPM would include attempts to enhance the immune system (in roses some give their sick plants an aspirin).

    Yes, when it would be efficacious. That is one of the strengths of IPM: using low-impact techniques where appropriate to protect plants. It can also be highly targeted to only those plants that need it, another aspect of IPM.

  112. Henry,
    The insect protection approaches using GM are onto the 3rd stacked traits already. Similarly, drought resistance research with GM explores multiple traits, and regulatory genes that influence networks of targets.

  113. ————————————
    The bug guy cited the following quote on July 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm from the Kouser & Quaim (2011) paper:
    ——————————–
    “Pesticide use models, which we also estimated with ?xed-effects speci?cations, show that Bt cotton has reduced pesticide use by 50%, with savings increasing over time.”
    —————————————
    Please point out where in the paper a stastical analysis is done that supports the quote you selected.
    ======================================
    I find the following:
    ————————————–
    Fig. 2. Average pesticide quantity used on Bt and non-Bt cotton plots for 4 seasons.
    ————————-
    Is the savings greater in 2006 and 2008 than 2004? If you think so please explain. I do not see that.
    Note no error bars are given. No t-test, stastical evaluation, was done to show that the graphed differences are stastically significant.
    ————————————-
    Table 1. Pesticide quantity (kg/acre) Average for 4 seasons:
    Bt-cotton 1.28 (SD 1.61)
    non Bt-cotton 3.54 (SD 3.34)
    This does not apply to trends but I included it to show that here they do at least show standard deviations and they do t-tests.
    ————————-
    Please look at my post on July 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm to see an example of applying a t-test to another Quaim paper. It that data the same as the data used here for the first 3 seasons?

  114. Please review my previous post and the part of the manuscript that I emphasized.
    Just looking at raw amounts doesn’t tell you that much if you don’t take toxicity into account.
    What I selected out and pointed to in my reference to that paper was the dramatic decrease in category I pesticide use. Because of the high safety margins, you can have increases in lower category usage and still have a net environmental benefit.
    Too bad you decided to focus on something else. Table one backs up my point clearly, that there has been a dramatic decrease in the use of Category I pesticides, plus a good decrease in Category II usage.
    Trend information is presented in Table 4 of the manuscript, which shows significant downward trends for pesticide usage, especially with Category I and II materials. Please see section 3.2.2:

    Indeed, notable differences in the Bt effects can be observed. As already suggested by the descriptive statistics, the largest part of the overall pesticide reductions through Bt adoption occurs in the most toxic hazard category I pesticides, and this effect almost doubled between 2002–04 and 2006–08 (column 2). The effect of Bt in the later period of almost −1.1 kg per acre is equivalent to a 70% reduction, as compared to mean quantities of category I pesticides on non-Bt plots

  115. ————————
    Eric Baumholder on July 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm stated (in part): ”
    If there’s a bad disconnect in the narrative involving GM crops, it’s between academics and farmers. ……….Farmer accounts of the value of biotech should, in an ideal world where everyone is rational, be respected as more conclusive than anything else.”
    ————————-
    H.Kuska comment: you may find the following undergratuate Thesis of interest:
    ———————–
    http://liu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:423017/FULLTEXT01
    ———————-
    “Abstract
    This study aimed to examine farmers‟ descriptions of their experiences of cultivating Bt cotton and to see whether or not the farmers‟ descriptions of their experiences are in coherence with the purposes with Bt cotton. This was carried out through qualitative semi-structured interviews with Bt cotton farmers in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, and a qualitative content analysis of the farmers‟ descriptions. Our conclusions are among other, that the experiences of the farmers are various. Some farmers have experienced what Bt cotton was aimed to lead to; higher yields and reduced use of pesticides, while other farmers have experienced the opposite.”
    ———————————
    Of course this is not a stastically significant study; but the reader may find it an interesting read.

  116. ————————-
    the bug guy stated on July 30, 2011 at 5:31 am the following:
    ——————————
    “Just looking at raw amounts doesn’t tell you that much if you don’t take toxicity into account.”
    ——————————-
    H.Kuska comment. My initial comment to this paper was on July 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm. Among other points I stated:
    —————————————-
    -i.e. I would think that one would look at the pesticide(s) that is(are) most often not used when Bt-cotton is used, then look up its/their observed effects, and then see if there is a noticeable reduction of these specific effects.”
    ======================================
    Table 4 (to me) is just as interesting for what it does not say directly. For example:
    —————————
    “A striking feature in columns (1) and (3) of Table 4, and also in columns (1) and (2) of Table 3, are the large negative and significant coefficients of the year dummies. They suggest that both pesticide use and the number of pesticide poisonings decreased over time, even beyond the effect of Bt adoption. This is also consistent with the descriptive analysis in Fig. 2, which revealed a decreasing trend in pesticide use not only on Bt plots, but also on non-Bt plots.”
    —————————–
    They then try to put the credit on Bt-crop adoption. But, if one reads the Indian literature, one finds that the bollworm was getting resistent to the “old” pesticides which initially resulted in the farmers spraying more of the “old”. The question unanswered in this study is did the farmers start to switch to pesticides which the bollworm was not resistent to? So that they were able to reduce the total amount of spraying. (The closest they come to this question is: “Nor did a broad-based introduction of alternative pest control strategies or integrated pest management programs occur in India during that period.”)
    ————————————
    The following statement illustrates another problem with the conclusions:
    ——————————————
    “The estimation results show that time seems to be an important
    component, as all three year dummies are highly significant. The
    negative signs of the dummy coefficients indicate that the incidence of pesticide poisoning has decreased over time. All other things equal, 1.8 fewer cases of poisoning per farm occurred in 2008 than in 2002.”
    ——————————————–

  117. -i.e. I would think that one would look at the pesticide(s) that is(are) most often not used when Bt-cotton is used, then look up its/their observed effects, and then see if there is a noticeable reduction of these specific effects.”

    I was pointing out the relevant parts of the paper that were partially addressing that by showing that there has been a large drop in the use of Category I materials.
    That there looks to be more than just the adoption of Bt cotton affecting usage rates is really to be expected. As you are fond of stating, Nature is Complex. However, the fact that there are more influences on pesticide usage rates does not diminish the positive effects that Bt cotton has had.
    Besides adoption of Bt cotton, plausible other influences include switching pesticides to avoid resistance, switching pesticides because of lower costs, switching pesticides to address a different suite of pests, improved use of IPM practices, better education on proper handling and application. Without more research, we can’t identify which, if any, of these apply.
    However, the paper does provide good evidence that Bt cotton has had a positive influence.

  118. Henry said
    The following statement illustrates another problem with the conclusions:
    ——————————————
    “The estimation results show that time seems to be an important
    component, as all three year dummies are highly significant. The
    negative signs of the dummy coefficients indicate that the incidence of pesticide poisoning has decreased over time. All other things equal, 1.8 fewer cases of poisoning per farm occurred in 2008 than in 2002.”
    ——————————————–
    David Tribe’s response
    Is this a problem? At face value it may indicate that the benefits of Bt cotton take some time to be fully realised, but they are getting better over time. This is a good outcome.

  119. David Tribe’s stated: “Is this a problem? At face value it may indicate that the benefits of Bt cotton take some time to be fully realised, but they are getting better over time. This is a good outcome.”
    —————————————–
    H.Kuska comment. It “may indicate” many possibilities, but scientifically it indicates (if the initial raw data are valid): “The negative signs of the dummy coefficients indicate that the incidence of pesticide poisoning has decreased over time. All other things equal, 1.8 fewer cases of poisoning per farm occurred in 2008 than in 2002.”
    ————————-
    No more, no less.

  120. The bug guy stated on July 30, 2011 at 11:57 am:
    “However, the paper does provide good evidence that Bt cotton has had a positive influence.”
    —————————————–
    H.Kuska comment. I can not agree that this paper (as written) provides “good evidence” of anything since it is based on raw data that has not been shown by the authors as passing a significance test. If this set of raw data is the same (except for an additional year) as in Qaim’s other paper, then one can say that according to the t-test, there was no statistical difference between the Bt and non Bt pesticide use in the 2006-2007 season.
    ———————–
    (In my post of July 29, 2011 at 8:12 pm I stated: “Please look at my post on July 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm to see an example of applying a t-test to another Qaim (note Qaim spelling corrected) paper. It that data the same as the data used here for the first 3 seasons?”)
    —————————————–
    Until the data are shown to have passed a significance test, the following is a possibility.
    ————————————— http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/G/garbage_in_garbage_out.html
    ==========================================

  121. Yes, I have looked back at your posts. However, the authors present significant results in the paper and those are what I am discussing. So yes, I find it good evidence.

  122. GMO Pundit stated on July 31, 2011 at 4:53 am: “Henry
    I take your rather cryptic comment to mean you agree with me as I take negative value to be better.”
    ———————
    Of course negative is better, where we disagree is your single “may indicate”. That is only one of many possible causes. Several that come to mind as “possibilities” are: increased utilization of less dangerous chemicals as the bollworm became immune to the older more dangerous chemicals, better spray safety habits, even possible less reporting of problems due to the farmers becoming used to a particular side effect and what to do when it occurs.

  123. I am convinced that the 2002-2004-2006 data base in the 2011 paper is the same as the data base in the 2009 paper that I applied the 5% t-test to (see comments on differences below).
    ——————————-
    A Quote from the 2011 paper: “To our knowledge, this is the only longer-term panel survey of Bt cotton farmers in a developing country.”
    ——————————–
    From 2009 paper:
    “The four states are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, which are representative of cotton production in central and southern India. The first round of the survey was carried out in 2002-03, the first season for which Bt cotton hybrids had been officially commercialized in India. In total, we selected 341 farmers through a stratified random sampling procedure, covering 10 districts and 58 villages in the four states.
    ————————–
    Corresponding statement from 2011 paper:
    “At first, four states were purposely selected, namely Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.”……”In the four states, we randomly selected 10 cotton-growing districts and 58 villages, using a combination of census data and agricultural production statistics. Within each village, we randomly selected farm households from complete lists of cotton producers that were provided by the village heads. In total, 341 farmers were sampled in 2002.”
    ———————————
    The only differences are that the 2011 paper included data for the 2008 season and the number of observations included per year were decreased (“Since for robust impact assessment with fixed-effects models a balanced panel is preferred, we dropped observations with missing data for individual years and only kept farmers in the sample with complete information for all four survey rounds. Thus, we remain with a sample of 198 farm observations in each round, or 792 observations over all four rounds.”).
    ————————————–
    As I pointed out earlier the 2006 data did not give a significant difference at the 5% t-test.
    ——————-
    By 2006 there were only 56 plot level observations for non Bt-farms. Since the article states that only those that completed all 4 years were included, the number of non Bt-farm plot level observations for the 2008 study has a maximum of 56, and is probably lower since farmers leave, die, grow something else, etc. This observation (I feel) makes the need for a t-test of the 2008 raw data critical to interpreting the significance of this paper.
    ————————————–
    ?? The following illustrates one problem that I have with this paper. “Fig. 2 further disaggregates the pesticide use data by growing season. In all four seasons, lower quantities of pesticides were used on Bt than on non-Bt plots”
    —————————–
    (H.Kuska comment-not according to the 5% t-test for 2006, and no t-test was given for 2008 -I cannot do one as not enough raw data are given.)
    ——————–
    (continuing the authors quote) “It is also interesting to observe that chemical pesticide use declined over time, which holds true for both Bt and non-Bt plots.
    ——————————–
    H.Kuska comment: actually Fig. 2 shows that pesticide quantity in Bt-plots appears to have slightly increased (or if statistics had been applied – probably remained constant) from 2002 to 2004 and then appears to have dropped in 2006 and then either dropped slightly or statistically remained the same in 2008.
    ———————
    For the non Bt-plots, (again by looking at Fig. 2) the pesticide quantity used appears to have decreased from 2002 to 2004 to 2006 but then appears to have increased in 2008 (of course statistics should be used to see if these changes are real).

  124. I’m stopping here because we are talking about two different things. I have not been talking about total pesticides, which is what you keep pushing.
    I have been discussing the changes in usage by toxicity categories, which are noted to be significantly different in the paper and which you keep ignoring.

  125. ————————–
    the bug guy stated on August 1, 2011 at 5:07 am the following: “I have been discussing the changes in usage by toxicity categories, which are noted to be significantly different in the paper and which you keep ignoring.”
    ——————————–
    H.Kuska reply. I am sorry that you do not see that my initial comments, my comments to you, and to GMO Pundit have not been applicable to “discussing the changes in usage by toxicity categories”.
    ———————————–
    Perhaps an example that is similar to what I used when teaching will be useful here. I can go into a morgue and note that all of the dead people have 2 ears. Statistically I find a 100% significant correlation. Of course we all can see that “that” use of statistics is faulty because we did not include consideration of data that living people had 2 ears also. In this example it was obvious, but in the complex world, failure to include relevant terms is a very real danger when using statistics.
    ————————
    The authors correctly used dummy variables to show that other factors were affecting their analysis. Table 4 gives the slopes attributable to the 2004, 2006, and 2008 dummies. Please compare them to the slopes of the hazard categories. What do these large slopes mean? Well, that is why they are called dummies. The statistics does not tell us.
    —————————
    From the 2011 paper: “A striking feature in columns (1) and (3) of Table 4, and also in columns (1) and (2) of Table 3, are the large negative and significant coefficients of the year dummies. They suggest that both pesticide use and the number of pesticide poisonings decreased over time, even beyond the effect of Bt adoption.”
    ———————
    The authors make some “educated guesses”.
    ———————
    On July 31, 2011 at 8:07 am I stated (concerning a related subtopic): “Of course negative is better, where we disagree is your single “may indicate”. That is only one of many possible causes. Several “possibilities” that come to mind are: increased utilization of less dangerous chemicals as the bollworm became immune to the older more dangerous chemicals, better spray safety habits, even possible less reporting of problems due to the farmers becoming used to a particular side effect and what to do when it occurs.”
    ————————-

  126. Dr. Kehsav Kranthi is the director of India’s Central Institute for Cotton Research. He wrote a 3 part paper titled “10 Years of Bt in India”. The first 2 parts were linked to at the beginning of this thread (in an update) by David Tribe. The link below gives part 3.
    ———————————-
    http://cotton247.com/news/?storyid=2171
    ———————————
    “Lack of such recommendations have resulted in progressive problems and stagnation of production and productivity (560 kg lint/ha in 2007; 524 Kg lint/ha in 2008; 486 Kg lint/ha in 2009; and 506 Kg lint/ha in 2010) despite a steady increase in the area under Bt-cotton (62% in 2007, 73% in 2008, 84% in 2009, and 85% in 2010).”
    ———————————
    “These issues are related to “stewardship” of the technology and have nothing to do with either the Nt technology or biosafety aspects. The issues have been a major concern with farmers since insecticide use is gradually increasing as required for the management of these emerging new insect pests.” (H.Kuska comment. I assume “Nt” is a misprint for “Bt”.
    ——————————–
    “Can India emerge as a global leader of cotton? The answer, from those who know India well, would certainly be in the affirmative. However, such dreams can become realities only if appropriate technology stewardship plans are formulated utilizing the robust native science and knowledge, without resorting to product releases for short-term commercial gains—something that several Indian seed companies have being doing over the past decade.”

  127. Henry,
    Just let it go. Nobody has any legitimate claim to telling farmers what they should/can do. The farmer will always know better than anyone else how to produce the most output with the least input.
    People who think they know more than farmers, and want to dictate terms to farmers, are, nearly by definition, ignorant.
    Let the farmers choose the technology they like, and all will be better.

  128. Eric, if you do not want to participate in a forum that is intended to present factual information and foster discussion about agriculture. Thank is your choice. There are plenty of forums that discuss topics other than agriculture.

  129. What strikes me as somewhat odd in this report is the apparent negative connotations of having so many Bt hybrids available – generally the clarion call of the anti-biotech movement is that it promotes monoculture and reduces genetic diversity – here now we see a clear case where the trait is available across a wide range of genetic diversity, and for some reason this is a bad thing (I haven’t the time or energy to go read the paper again as I’ve spent the last week and a bit standing in corn fields with a heat index of over 100F… – I’m thinking perhaps without proper information on hybrids the whole deal may become a crap shoot (although I was under the impression that Mayhco does a lot of extention work – although how wide this spreads geographically isn’t immediately clear to me))

  130. —————————————-
    Another very recent 2011 Qaim paper using the same survey:
    ————————————–
    http://www2.vwl.wiso.uni-goettingen.de/courant-papers/CRC-PEG_DP_80.pdf
    —————————————–
    In Table 1, the pesticide use is the SAME for Bt and non Bt for the 2 years 2006-2008. Please also notice that no significance values were assigned for this pesticide use category for 2006-2008.
    ==================================
    Also please note the following:
    ———————————-
    “Descriptive statistics of the variables used in the regression analysis are shown in Table 1, separated by Bt and conventional plots and farmers. The Table also disaggregates by time period, clubbing the first two (2002-2004) and the last two (2006-2008) survey waves. A further disaggregation by all four waves is not useful for the descriptive statistics, because the number of conventional cotton plot observations became extremely small in 2008, due to almost complete Bt adoption (also see next subsection).”…..”The adoption share increased to 93% in 2005 and reached 99% in 2008.”
    ———————————
    H.Kuska comment. 99% in 2008, yet separate 2008 pesticide use was included in Figure 2 in the 2011 paper about toxicity, “Impact of Bt cotton on pesticide poisoning in small holder agriculture: A panel data analysis” (with no mention of numbers or statistical significance).
    ===================
    One of the things that I find “interesting” about the toxicity paper is that despite the “shakiness” in the raw data the paper ends with an extrapolation to all of India:
    ——————————-
    “Indeed, the coefficient for Bt area in 2006–08 increases substantially in absolute terms from 0.104 in column (2) to 0.388 in column (3). We use these two values after 2006 as lower and upper-bound estimates for some extrapolations. Each acre of Bt cotton decreases the incidence of acute pesticide poisoning by 0.104-0.388. Multiplying by the total area under the technology in India, which was 23.2 million acres in 2010, suggests that Bt cotton reduces the number of pesticide poisonings by 2.4-9.0 million cases every year. 6 Above we reported that each case of poisoning causes health costs in a magnitude of 264 Rs. Hence, Bt cotton helps to save health costs of 0.6-2.4 billion Rs (14–51 million US$) per year.”

  131. —————————————-
    Another very recent 2011 Qaim paper using the same survey:
    ————————————–
    http://www2.vwl.wiso.uni-goettingen.de/courant-papers/CRC-PEG_DP_80.pdf
    —————————————–
    In Table 1, the pesticide use is the SAME for Bt and non Bt for the 2 years 2006-2008. Please also notice that no significance values were assigned for this pesticide use category for 2006-2008.
    ==================================
    Also please note the following:
    ———————————-
    “Descriptive statistics of the variables used in the regression analysis are shown in Table 1, separated by Bt and conventional plots and farmers. The Table also disaggregates by time period, clubbing the first two (2002-2004) and the last two (2006-2008) survey waves. A further disaggregation by all four waves is not useful for the descriptive statistics, because the number of conventional cotton plot observations became extremely small in 2008, due to almost complete
    Bt adoption (also see next subsection).”…..”The adoption share increased to 93% in 2005
    and reached 99% in 2008.”
    ———————————
    H.Kuska comment. 99% in 2008, yet separate 2008 pesticide use was included in Figure 2 in the 2011 paper about toxicity, “Impact of Bt cotton on pesticide poisoning in small holder agriculture: A panel data analysis” (with no mention of numbers or statistical significance).
    ======================
    One of the things that I find “interesting” about the toxicity paper is that despite the “shakiness” in the raw data the paper ends with an extrapolation to all of India:
    ——————————-
    “Indeed, the coefficient for Bt area in 2006–08 increases substantially in absolute terms from 0.104 in column (2) to 0.388 in column (3). We use these two values after 2006 as lower and upper-bound estimates for some extrapolations. Each acre of Bt cotton decreases the incidence of acute pesticide poisoning by 0.104-0.388. Multiplying by the total area under the technology in India, which was 23.2 million acres in 2010, suggests that Bt cotton reduces the number of pesticide poisonings by 2.4-9.0 million cases every year. 6 Above we reported that each case of poisoning causes health costs in a magnitude of 264 Rs. Hence, Bt cotton helps to save health costs of 0.6-2.4 billion Rs (14–51 million US$) per year.”

  132. ————————————-
    New research
    ————————————-
    Manual topping decreases bollworm infestations in cotton cultivation in Mali
    ———————————————http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261219411001980

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