India, the world's biggest cotton producer, has contracted to import 20,000 bales from Pakistan after Indian prices jumped because of limited supply

So much for India's Bt cotton miracle. The country’s GMO Bt cotton crop has failed under an onslaught of non-GMO-friendly pests and weather.

Meanwhile a stream of GMO promotionals have until very recently continued to appear in the “scientific” literature and the media, claiming yield and profit benefits for farmers growing Bt cotton.

The UK Royal Society’s report on GM crops, which was published this year, touts Bt cotton in India as part of the global Bt crops success story which has enabled the application of “450,000 tons of insecticide” to be avoided.

You can bet that the Royal Society ignored in this calculation the highly toxic insecticidal seed treatments that are now routinely applied to cotton seed, as well as seeds of other commodity crops like maize and soybeans.

We should bear in mind that papers and reports claiming benefits from Bt cotton are based on ancient data, before pests and non-GMO-friendly weather took their toll on India’s almost entirely GMO cotton crop.

And even claims made for yield benefits due to Bt cotton in the early years of cultivation are questionable. An analysis by Prof Glenn Davis Stone shows that chemical insecticides, not GM Bt cotton, were likely responsible for the temporary rise in yields in the early 2000s (“temporary” because the rise was not sustained).

India imports cotton from Pakistan as domestic prices climb

By Rajendra Jadhav
Reuters, 23 June 2016

India, the world's biggest cotton producer, has contracted to import 20,000 bales from Pakistan for shipment this month after Indian prices jumped because of limited supply, industry officials told Reuters.

The move is a role reversal from earlier this year, when Pakistan was buying cotton from India after its output had been hit by bad weather.

"Around 20,000 bales have been imported from Pakistan. Landed cost of imported cotton is lower than local prices," Dhiren Sheth, president of the Cotton Association of India (CAI), told Reuters.

Indian cotton prices have risen by 28 percent since the start of 2015/16 season on Oct. 1 to 40,800 rupees per 356 kg candy (77.4 cents per lb) as two years of drought took its toll on output.

Pakistani supplies are available at about 70 cents per lb on a free-on-board basis, said one Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.

"Supplies are dwindling in both countries. The sharp rally in Indian prices is making imports viable from Pakistan, but it has limited quantity for exports," the dealer said.

India has so far imported about 1.2 million bales in 2015/16 and needs another 400,000 bales before the new crop starts arriving from the end of September, Sheth said.

The country has exported about 6.5 million bales of cotton this season, with Pakistan accounting for nearly 2 million bales.

Indian buying has been pushing up prices in Pakistan, said Shahzad Ali Khan, chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginner's Association.

The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association has urged the Pakistan government to restrict cotton exports to India in an attempt to provide raw material for domestic textiles production.

Indian industry officials, including Sheth of the CAI, said that Pakistan should not restrict exports since it imported cotton when it was in need.

Global cotton prices could rally sharply in the coming months as stocks become further depleted in key producing countries, one Karachi-based dealer said.

(1 bale = 170 kg)

(Editing by David Goodman)