Thursday, October 30, 2008

Genetic Engineering, Agronomy, and Pesticide Safety

Controversy over cotton with the B.t. gene persists. Some agronomists celebrate the suppression of lepidopteran pests, while others predict resurgence. A renewed thrust by hemipterans in the meantime cannot be denied. The neonicotinoid success story has been built largely on the changed pest dynamics of genetically engineered crops.

I was in the cotton-growing belt of Northern India recently. B.t. cotton helps with dermal exposure to pesticides, regardless of what it does to pests. B.t, cotton plants have just about half the vegetation of the improved varieties that farmers in Punjab and Haryana grew earlier. Moreover, the plant population per acre has been cut drastically. Here are sequential photographs of the two kinds of cotton near harvest:

I have realized from this example that breeders have important roles in pesticide safety. I invite your views. Please post below.

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