Bollgard Bt cotton is India’s first biotech crop technology approved for commercialisation in India in 2002.
Indian farmers seem to have taken to Bacillus thurengiensis (Bt) cotton seeds in a big way. According to technology supplier Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB), India, the farmers have brought 20 per cent more area under cotton cultivation in 2008. This is likely to shoot up cotton production in the country, which is already the second largest producer of cotton in the world.
As per an estimate by the MMB, India, approximately 4 million farmers cultivated Bollgard II and Bollgard Bt cotton on 172 lakh acres equivalent to 76 per cent of India’s total 225 lakh cotton acres in Kharif 2008.
The acreage has steadily increased from 87 lakh acres in 2006 to 144 lakh acres in 2007. The farmers have a choice from over 150 Bollgard II and Bollgard Bt cotton hybrid seeds.
Bollgard II acreage area increased to 45 lakh acres during the ongoing crop season as compared to 12.2 lakh acres during the last season. Similarly, Bollgard continued to be widely adopted on 127 lakh acres.
Bollgard II has a superior double-gene technology that offers farmers better Insect Resistance Management (IRM), along with higher yield, more pesticide savings, and thereby higher income.
“Within six years of the launch of Bollgard Bt Cotton in 2002, India’s cotton production has doubled, making it the second largest producer, and second largest exporter of cotton in the world,” said Raj Ketkar, Deputy Managing Director, MMB.
Total Bt cotton areas
Bollgard - II
|Figures in lakh acres|
The highest growth for Bollgard II was witnessed in Maharashtra with 21.6 lakh acres (up 70 per cent as against 6.3 lakh acres in 2007), Andhra Pradesh with 8.4 lakh acres (up 88 per cent as compared to 1.01 lakh acres in 2007), and Gujarat with 5.3 lakh acres (up 42 per cent versus 3.1 lakh acres in 2007).
Dr B B Bhosle, professor and head, Department of Entomology, Maharashtra Agriculture University, Parbhani, Maharashtra said, “Bollgard II - double gene cotton technology has two Bt proteins, Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab2 which are better for insect resistance management (IRM). With both the Bt proteins having different modes of action, the chance of resistance to both proteins in Bollgard II is highly unlikely, and this makes Bollgard II an effective tool in insect resistance management. The US EPA has removed the need for 20 per cent refuge for Bollgard II and if we do in India, we can increase our cotton productivity even more.”
Bollgard Bt cotton (single-gene technology) is India’s first biotech crop technology approved for commercialisation in India in 2002, followed by Bollgard II - double gene technology in mid-2006, by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) - the regulatory body for biotech crops.
These technologies were launched in India by MMB, a 50:50 joint venture between Mahyco and Monsanto Company, USA. MMB has sub-licensed the Bollgard and Bollgard II technologies to 23 Indian seed companies, all of which have introduced the Bollgard technology into their own germplasm.