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India Expanding Development of Insect-Resistant Cotton

The Biotech Advantage June 12, 2002
The first Indian company to offer genetically modified cotton has announced it is testing new varieties of modified seed to resist bollworms. "We have started field trials for two more GM cotton hybrids that will be best suited for northern India," says the company's managing director Raju Barwale. The company is currently selling insect-resistant cotton designed for planting in the central and southern parts of the country. Barwale says the new seeds could be sold to farmers for the next season, "providing we get government approval."
All five varieties have been genetically enhanced to resist the bollworm, which causes more than 80 percent of the pest damage to cotton crops. Bollworm-resistant varieties could increase yields by 30 to 40 percent and require 70 percent less pesticide, Barwale says. A reduction in pesticide use by cotton farmers would provide significant environmental benefits since, according to trade estimates, cotton accounts for nearly half of India's total pesticide consumption.
The company is also developing genetically modified sorghum, some pulses (bean seeds) and vegetables, in order to improve yields and resist pests.
"India: Interview—India's Mahyco Conducts Trials on More GM Seeds," Reuters