The fifth GMO cotton approved by Argentina 07-04-2019

On June 21, the Agroindustry Secretary of Argentina, Luis Miguel Etechevehere, approved the announcement about a new generation of GMO cotton, together with the Head of Global Cotton from BASF, Christian Monty. This new type of GMO cotton is characterized by a trait of herbicide and insect resistance. And it is considered as the fifth GMO cotton in Argentina, following Bt, Roundup Ready, RRBt, glyphosate and glufosinate, as well as glyphosate and HPPD inhibitors.

It is reported that the fifth GMO cotton has the second trait of insect resistance after BollGard, which has the first one and was released in 1998. Pectinophora gossypiella has become resistant to the original Bt protein, imposing a great threat to crops. As a result, the new cotton becomes the key to controlling resistant pests.

The fifth GMO cotton will be commercialized by BASF, by the name of “GlyTol TwinLink Plus”.

China and India own the biggest growing area of GMO cotton against insects among all developing countries

On the whole, GMO cotton is ranked as the third place when it comes to the total growing area of GMOs all over the world. In 2010, GMO cotton reached 21 million hectares globally, accounting for 49% of the total area of cotton in the world. Four years later, the crop is occupying 14% of the growing area of GMOs round the earth. The total growing area of GMO cotton took up 25.1 million hectares in 15 countries, including the USA, Argentina, Brazil, China, India and South Africa.

In general, GMO cotton mainly has two types of trait, which can be divided into insect and herbicide.

China and India are the two developing countries with the largest growing area of GMO cotton with a trait of insect resistance. In China, the area of GMO cotton with a trait of insect resistance has been stable at around 3.5 million hectares since 2006. In India, GMO cotton with a trait of insect resistance has been developing rapidly since 2002 and its growing area has been already over 9 million hectares since 2010.

Chinese cotton industry is struggling due to negative effects caused by GMO cotton

China is one of the biggest producer of cotton in the world. In the 1990s, bollworms invaded the cotton fields in North China. Monsanto Company seized the chance to commercialized GMO cotton with a trait of insect resistance in Shandong Province and Anhui Province, from the cotton fields along the Yellow River to those along the Long River.

Since then, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences has conducted a research about GMOs. After tracking the cotton fields in the north for 10 years, experts found that the GMO cotton Bt furthered an increasing number of secondary insects like mirids, which was likely to impose a detrimental impact on the ecological environment.

Some experts also indicate that, although bollworms were under control, the quantity of sucking pests experienced a growing tendency in the main growing areas of cotton, where GMO cotton with a trait of insect resistance was planted. Those secondary insects such as cotton aphids, mirids, cotton spider mites, whiteflies, and thrips tabaci lindemens became the main insects to damage cotton fields, which caused serious supply reduction of cotton.

Normally, once a kind of insects gets controlled, another type of pest is spreading. In order to prevent new insects from augment, farmers have to increase the amount of pesticides, which not only results in the pollution of environment but also causes a loss of economy. Therefore, GMO cotton may somehow have a negative effect on Chinese cotton industry.

For more information about China's cotton market, please have a look at our monthly newsletter Crop Farming China E-News.

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