Agro-economic and ecological impact of GM and non-GM cotton farming in India
The commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) crops has raised a polarised debate concerning environmental risks and the potential socio-economic impacts on farmers. A proper assessment of the impact of GM crops requires thus an inter-disciplinary approach; an optimal assessment that is currently missing probably because is complex and requires a combination of diverse academic disciplines.
To address this lack of multi-disciplinary studies, this project uses state-of-the-art methods and an ecosystem services approach to construct, for the first time, a scientific multi-disciplinary framework to quantitatively determine the impacts and trade-offs of GM crops. The GM crop studied is GM pest resistant cotton, also named Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton. The study takes place in India, the leading country commercially growing Bt cotton but simultaneously the country where the performance of Bt cotton has generated most controversies.
This project compares the relative impact of Bt cotton farming – as compared to non-Bt cotton farming -, on key ecosystem services and on farmer’s economy. Using an ecosystem services approach, this research will provide then the basis for a consistent conceptual framework to frame the GM debate in India. From a broader point of view, the resulting conceptual and methodological framework will provide a much needed scientific basis for a better multi-scalar understanding of the impacts of GM crops worldwide.