Genetically-modified crops are a sticky subject. The answer really is a matter of opinion. I think GMOs are not a good thing for economic reasons. The problem is that GMOs are technically owned by the company that has produced them, so whenever they are planted, you must buy the seed from the same company over and over, and you may not let any of your crop go to seed to save the seeds for future years. There have been cases of farms being sued by large agricultural corporations simply because seed from the trademarked GMOs have spread to their land and started to grow there. I personally feel that this is not a sustainable solution, because it forces farmers to rely on one specific company, rather than developing seed-saving techniques.
It depends on how it is employed. The main form of genetically modified cotton around the work today is bt cotton, a kind of cotton that is much more resistant to attacks by insects. Bt cotton doesn’t exist in a vacuum, when it’s introduced it replaces the spraying of toxic insecticides to control those pests. This is particularly important in countries like India and China where many pesticides are still used that have been banned in the US and Europe because of their harmful effects, and agricultural workers often have inadequate or no protection from the chemicals they’re applying.
In India, much of the bt cotton seed planted is from grey market varieties that are produced by local breeders who have introgressed the gene for insect resistant into their crops. Farmers either save their seeds or buy from neighbors with an interest in cotton breeding, and for these “off brand” seeds not a cent (or rupee) gets payed back Monsanto or the Chinese government researchers who have developed different varieties of the insect resistance bt trait used in Indian cotton. This is possible because India has very different laws about gene patents than the US and Europe. Monsanto does sell their own brand of genetically engineered cotton Bollgard in India as well (and they do make money from that).
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