Effectiveness and chemical pest control of Bt-cotton in the Yangtze River Valley, China
AbstractThe sustainability of Bt-cotton in China, at least along Yellow River Valley, has been questioned, so this paper examines its effectiveness along Yangtze River Valley, where Bt-cotton is also widely sown, to determine what might be the factors beneath the limited or reduced effectiveness being observed. The analysis is based on the data collected for several years from many locations in the Yangtze River Valley Varietal Experiment Network to provide information on the varieties and their agronomic performance, on the control of their GM characteristic, on the expression of the Bt-gene and on chemical control practices against cotton pests.All varieties declared to be Bt-cotton were confirmed to have the Bt-gene, the expression of which was assessed in three ways: through the analysis of Bt-protein production and through indoor and outdoor bioassays. Gene expression varied substantially between varieties and between years for the few varieties which were tested in two subsequent years.The Bt-cotton varieties being sown cannot control bollworms totally even early in the growing season, so surviving larvae could inevitably be observed, and this led farmers (or professionals in charge of supplying technical assistance to farmers) to spray chemicals regardless of the real infestation level. This demonstrates behaviour aimed at eradication of the pests as bollworms seem to be treated chemically more often than is required and far earlier than necessary on the first two generations of H. armigera. The chemical control of the Bt-cotton in Yangtze River Valley hence is not optimal, thus farmers are paying high prices for varieties which are not totally resistant to bollworms and pest control costs are not reduced to the extent that they might expect, lowering the profitability of cotton production. Also chemical protection costs are not decreasing as those pests unaffected by the Bt-gene, mainly but not exclusively sucking ones are requiring more control. This is illustrative of a phenomenon of pest complex shift which deserves more attention in following up the Bt-cotton use.
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Date of creation: Jan 2008
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Publication status: Published, Crop Protection, 2008, 27, 1269– 1276
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China; Bt; cotton; gene expression; chemical control; effectiveness;
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-09-29 (All new papers)
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- Huang, Jikun & Hu, Ruifa & Rozelle, Scott & Qiao, Fangbin & Pray, Carl E., 2002. "Transgenic varieties and productivity of smallholder cotton farmers in China," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 46(3), September.
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