Pest problems spreading with Bt cotton
2.The mealy bug has entered Vidarbha cotton fields through the Bt cottonseed
3.Pest resistance rising
NOTE: Evidence out of China has already shown any initial reductions in pesticide use from Bt cotton being eroded by new pest problems. The researchers warned the same patern was likely to be repeated elsewhere, and this seems to be exactly what's happening in India (where major pest problems have been besetting Bt cotton in the Punjab, Vidarbha and Haryana - items 1 and 2), the US and South Africa (item 3).
1. Mealy bug threatens cotton crop in state
Express India, June 18 2008
Chandigarh - The cotton crop in Haryana, especially Bt cotton, is under threat from mealy bug, which may cause extensive damage to the crop if not controlled in time, said sources in the Haryana Agriculture Department.
In the past, the cotton crop in the state had often been damaged by the American Bollworm. In 2002, the bug had caused severe damage to the crop, ruining a number of state farmers in the process. But in the past few years, the farmers had been getting a good crop. However, now a threat by another bug looms large. It was generally believed that Bt cotton was pest-resistant, but B.S. Duggal, Additional Director, Haryana Agriculture, says Bt cotton is safe only from bollworm and not mealy bug.
What is worrying the cotton farmers is the early onset of monsoon. Rains at this time of the year is good for other crops, including bajra, sugarcane, paddy and pulses, but not for cotton. "A prolonged humid period is conducive to the growth of the mealy bug. Farmers fear their crops may be damaged if the rains continue for a considerable period of time," said Duggal.
A recent study by two scientists of Haryana Agriculture University, Dr R.K. Saini and Dr Paleram, had shown that the presence of mealy bug was more in Sirsa district of the state. The study had shown that there was more presence of black and brown ants on cotton crop damaged by the bug.
The Agriculture Department is advising the farmers to remove the weeds in their fields and make use of pesticides wherever there are signs of the bug. "We have asked the farmers in the state to keep a close watch and destroy all unwanted weeds as mealy bugs are known to survive and thrive on them," said Duggal. This year, the cotton crop had been shown on a smaller area in the state. While last year the total area under cotton crop in Haryana was 86,000 acres, this year it is much less at 80,000 acres, said sources in the state agriculture department.
2. The mealy bug has entered Vidarbha cotton fields through the Bt cottonseed
Science in Society #38 Summer 2008
Letters to the Editor
Deadly gift from Monsanto to India
To follow up on your articles, Organic Cotton Beats Bt Cotton in India (SiS 27) and Message from Andra Predesh: Return to organic cotton & avoid the Bt cotton trap (SiS 29), I enclose photographs of mealy bugs infested cotton plants in the demonstration plots of different seed companies in Vidarbha: Ganga Kavari, Paras Bbhrahma, and Banny. All of the plots have the Bollgard label. These mealy bugs have never been in our region on any plants before Bt cotton was introduced. I learned about the devastation of cotton in China two years ago. This alerted me to photograph and video the demonstration plots regularly. So, anybody can say with confidence now that the mealy bug has entered Vidarbha cotton fields through the Bt cottonseed.
Now when the cotton plants have died, the mealy bug is shifting to nearby plants. By mid June, farmers will go for the new cotton crop or plant another crop. But before that, the bug will have multiplied like any thing. It has shifted to Congress weed nearby, and many other weeds and plants in gardens.
Read the rest of the letters and see the photographs here http://www.i-sis.org.uk/SIS38lettersToTheEditor.php
3. Pest resistance rising
+ USA: INSECT PRESSURE SHIFTING
In the Southeast and Mid-South, stink bugs and plant bugs including lygus, tarnished plant bugs and cotton fleahoppers have become the primary problems on Bt cotton, which has provided an ideal environment for stink bugs and plant bugs to flourish.
+ SUPER BOLLWORM COMETH
In the USA bollworms are developing resistance to Bt cotton - bollworms being the pest that Bt cotton was supposed to kill - and commercial pressures look set to weaken the refuge strategy that might have slowed down rising resistance.
+ RESISTANCE DEVELOPING IN SOUTH AFRICA TOO
In South Africa the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has published trial results that indicate stalk-borer larvae have developed resistance to Bt maize plants.