Won’t GM help improve yield?
The normal argument cited in favour of GM crops is that the farmer would get a better yield due to its pest-resistance and herbicide-intolerance properties. There are various factors that influence the yield such as rains, soil quality etc. Neverthless, in the case of Bt Cotton, there are enough evidence to show that the yields have suffered. Except in Gujarat, in most states the yields have suffered or stayed stagnant.
Interestingly, in the very first year of Bt Cotton commercial cultivation in India (2002-03), the largest survey on performance was done in the state of Andhra Pradesh, by thedepartment of Agriculture. It covered 53% of all Bt farmers in AP. This continues to be the largest percentage sample of Bt Cotton performance in the country to this day. And 71% farmers reported low yield when compared to local hybrids.
In the year 2004, the Andhra Pradesh government officially ordered the Mahyco company to pay compensation to the tune of four crores of rupees to Bt Cotton farmers who lost their crop, which the company refused to. In 2005, Madhya Pradesh government had to deal with complaints of failures from the Nimad belt where large scale wilting of the Bt Cotton crop was reported. In 2005 and 2006, there are widespread reports in the media about Bt Cotton being the cause of scores of farmers committing suicides after the crop failed.