Bt Cotton – UPSC Prelims

Bt Cotton:
  • Bt cotton is the only transgenic crop that has been approved by the Government of India for commercial cultivation.
  • Bt cotton has been genetically modified to produce an insecticide to combat the cotton bollworm, a common pest.
  • Bt cotton was created by genetically altering the cotton genome to express a microbial protein from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.
  • In short, the transgene inserted into the plant’s genome produces toxin crystals that the plant would not normally produce which, when ingested by a certain population of organisms, dissolves the gut lining leading to the organism’s death.
HT Bt Cotton Variant:
  • This is another variant of Bt cotton.
  • This variant adds another layer of modification, making the plant resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.
  • However, this variant has not been approved by regulators.
Concerns regarding illegal cultivation of HT Bt Cotton: 
  • HT Bt cotton variant has serious environmental and economic consequences. This is because there are fears that glyphosate has a carcinogenic effect. Further, the unchecked spread of herbicide resistance is creating a variety of superweeds.
  • Illegal sale will eliminate small cotton seed companies and also threaten the entire legal cotton seed market in India.
  • There is no accountability of the quality of cottonseed as it is being sold illegally.
  • Industry is losing legitimate seed sales and the government is also losing revenue in terms of tax collection.
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