The Present and Future Role of Insect-Resistant Genetically Modified Cotton in IPM uri icon

abstract

  • Transgenic cottons producing Cry toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) provide for control of lepidopteran pests and were first commercially grown in Australia, Mexico and the USA in 1996. As of 2007, a total of six additional countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, and South Africa) now grow Bt cotton on a total production area of 14 million hectares. The technology primarily provides highly selective and effective control of bollworms, which are the most damaging pests of cotton worldwide. It is estimated that between 1996 and 2005 the deployment of Bt cotton has reduced the volume of insecticide active ingredient used for pest control in cotton by 94.5 million kilograms and increased farm income through reduced costs and improved yields by US$7.5 billion, with most of the benefit accrued by farmers in developing nations. Reductions in insecticide use have broadened opportunities for biological control of all cotton pests but most other pest management tactics have remained largely unchanged by the use of Bt cotton. However, several non-target pests have become more problematic in Bt cotton fields in some countries largely due to reductions in insecticide use for target pests. After 11 years of Bt cotton cultivation, control failures due to resistance have not been detected under field conditions. This success can be largely credited to pre-emptive resistance management based on mandated refuges and monitoring programs as well as non-mandated refuge crops and natural refuges which collectively act to dilute any resistant alleles in pest populations. New products are in the pipeline to improve the effectiveness of genetically modified cotton cultivars for resistance to lepidopteran pests, and to address other pest problems in cotton. Debate over food and environmental safety, regulatory oversight, and farming community welfare are likely to continue as the technology moves forward with new crops and new adopting countries

publication date

  • 2008
  • 2008