Farmers believed that the GM crops are the solution to their all problems as they give more yields and are also effective in pest management. GM cotton crops has been growing since last 14 years and farmers have seen the improvement in their living standard as well. But the very danger of the pest resistance to GM crops is visible now. This can be seen from the ineffectiveness of genetically modified (GM) cotton against the whitefly which has damaged the crops of farmers in Punjab and Haryana. It led to widespread protests by farmers which has raised concerns over the growing dependency on Bt cotton by Indian farmers.
The recent whitefly attack in Punjab has led to damage of over 75 per cent crop across the cotton belt. From the damage to the cotton crop due to this whitefly attack, over 95 per cent of it is Bt cotton and is estimated to be around Rs. 4,500 crore. Due to this huge damage the farmers suicide has also increased in the cotton belt.
Thus not only agriculturalists but also farmers are of the view that it is time for India to actively promote and involve public-private partnership (PPP) model in GM crop technology and focus on developing new technologies that are indigenous and are suitable for local conditions to fight pest infestation on cotton and other crops.
C.D. Mayee, president, Indian Society for Cotton Improvement, told that it’s high time, the government should start thinking beyond GM crop and focus on new crop technologies by adopting successful PPP models from other nations or develop its own. He also said that the GM crop technology served a good purpose, but there was always a possibility that pests might develop resistance. It was, therefore, that the government must evolve new crop technologies.
In this scenario it is being recommended to the farmers to sow traditional non-Bt varieties of American and desi (indigenous) cotton during next season in areas that are susceptible to high infestation of whitefly. But the farmers have their own problems. According to farmers Desi cotton is not viable as its yield is very low and also it has its own set of infestation problems which makes them further vulnerable.
Thus it is high time that India should start developing the new varieties of crops that are not only suited for local conditions but are also productive. For this India need to take steps towards the development of Research and Development in agriculture which is still in its nascent stage. We can learn from other countries and instead of creating dependence on GM crops developed by MNC like Monsanto we need to develop our own varieties.