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Traits in Agriculture » Pest Resistance

Title: Chinese Farmers Discontented with Bt Cotton After 15 Years
Publication date: August 08, 2017
Posting date: August 08, 2017

THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE

Dear Friends and Colleagues

Chinese Farmers Discontented with Bt Cotton After 15 Years

The initial positive impact of Bt cotton in China had reportedly turned negative after a few years, due to a pest complex shift phenomenon; a fact made known to the international community about ten years after the genetically engineered cotton was commercially released in the country.

A new study has appraised farmers' practices, performance and opinions 15 years after the commercial release of Bt cotton in northern China. It focused on pest control by combining a survey of farmers' characteristics and opinions about Bt cotton effectiveness and profitability, as well as on cotton cropping characteristics, with participatory detailed record-keeping of insecticide spraying by farmers. It adopted a holistic approach as it took into account the farming context when analyzing the results.

The main findings of the study were:

  • Three quarters of the surveyed farmers were discontented with Bt-cotton profitability, which gave them lower returns.
  • The farmers used chemicals intensively but lacked proficiency in chemical pest control. The pest complex shift phenomenon was confirmed as farmers aimed 60% of target-oriented insecticide controls at sucking pests, principally aphids and Lygus bugs, compared to bollworms.
  • Sustainable use of Bt cotton calls for locally adapted actions to improve farmers' proficiency in pest control.

With best wishes,

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
Malaysia
Email: twn@twnetwork.org
Websites: http://www.twn.my/and http://www.biosafety-info.net/
To subscribe to other TWN information services: www.twnnews.net

____________________________________________________________________________


MANAGING PESTS AFTER 15 YEARS OF BT COTTON: FARMERS' PRACTICES, PERFORMANCE AND OPINIONS IN NORTHERN CHINA

Wang, G., and Fok, M.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261219417301679
June 2017


Highlights

•    Data specific to chemical control practices, with farmers' record-keeping.
•    Most farmers discontent with Bt-cotton profitability, with lower returns.
•    Chemical control mainly against aphids and lygus bugs, but also bollworms.
•    Farmers lack proficiency in chemical control and specialization in agriculture.
•    Sustainable use of Bt cotton calls for improved farmer proficiency.

Abstract

In China, a substantial amount of literature addresses pest control in Bt cotton, which is genetically engineered to resist some target pests but which had no direct effects on many other pests. The impact of this technology was positive a few years after the commercial release, but this impact was subsequently found to have reversed. The reversal was made known to the international community about ten years after the commercial release of Bt cotton in China, as a consequence of a pest complex shift phenomenon. Nevertheless, all the existing literature seldom took farmers' practices in spraying chemicals into account; farmers' opinions about using Bt cotton were not reported, nor were their opinions of their performance in growing cotton.

Our study compensates for this lack through a specific and holistic approach in appraising farmers' practices, performance and opinions 15 years after the commercial release of Bt cotton in northern China. It focused on the topic of pest control by combining a survey of farmers' characteristics and opinions about Bt cotton effectiveness and profitability, as well as on their cotton cropping characteristics, with participatory detailed record-keeping of insecticide spraying by farmers. It is a holistic approach as it took into account the farming context when analyzing the results.

Our results indicated that farmers used chemicals somewhat intensively, carrying out 11 insecticide sprayings on average, involving an average of 2 pest target-oriented insecticide controls. The pest complex shift phenomenon was confirmed as farmers aimed 60% of target-oriented insecticide controls at sucking pests, principally aphids even more than Lygus bugs. Three quarters of farmers were not content with Bt cotton profitability while providing a shorter protection time and most of them displayed a lack of proficiency in implementing chemical pest control. The remaining quarter of contented farmers carried out more pest target-oriented insecticide controls. Four spraying strategy factors were found and were associated notably with farmers' attitudes in controlling bollworms, aphids and Lygus bugs. The observed strategies were connected with distinct farming efficiency in a country where farming has lost its attractiveness. Sustainable use of Bt cotton calls for locally adapted actions to improve farmers' proficiency in pest control.


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