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A question of integrity: Variants of Bt cotton, pesticides, and productivity in Pakistan

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  • Ma, Xingliang
  • Smale, Melinda
  • Spielman, David
  • Zambrano, Patricia
  • Nazli, Hina
  • Zaidi, Fatima

Abstract

Bt cotton remains one of the most widely grown biotech crops among smallholder farmers in lower income countries, and numerous studies attest to its advantages. However, the effectiveness of Bt toxin, which depends on many technical constraints, is heterogeneous. In Pakistan, the diffusion of Bt cotton occurred despite a weak regulatory system and without seed quality control; whether or not many varieties sold as Bt are in fact Bt is also questionable. We utilize nationally representative sample data to test the effects of Bt cotton use on productivity. Unlike previous studies, we invoke several indicators of Bt identity: variety name, official approval status, farmer belief, laboratory tests of Bt presence in plant tissue, and biophysical assays measuring Bt effectiveness. Only farmer belief affects cotton productivity in the standard production model, which does not treat Bt appropriately as damage-abating. In the damage control framework, all Bt indicators reduce damage from pests. Biophysical indicators have the largest effect and official approval has the weakest. Findings have implications for impact measurement. For policymakers, they suggest the need, on ethical if not productivity grounds, to improve variety information and monitor variety integrity closer to point of sale.

Suggested Citation

  • Ma, Xingliang & Smale, Melinda & Spielman, David & Zambrano, Patricia & Nazli, Hina & Zaidi, Fatima, 2016. "A question of integrity: Variants of Bt cotton, pesticides, and productivity in Pakistan," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235527, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea16:235527
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Agricultural and Food Policy; Farm Management; International Development; Productivity Analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services

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