Eighteen hundred sheep died in Andhra Pradesh (India) after grazing
on Bt cotton bushes after the cotton had been picked. The cotton
bushes had been genetically modified to contain the natural pesticide
bacillus thuringiensis - Bt). More proof (as if it was needed!)
that GM versions are not “substantially equivalent”
to the natural variety, as the biotech companies claim.
The shepherd-farmers of Andhra Pradesh have learned the hard
way just how inappropriate genetically engineered cotton is to
their culture. Firstly it has poisoned their sheep, an accident
that will probably occur again whatever precautions the shepherds
Secondly, grazing animals on fields after harvesting is a fundamental
part of subsistence farming. The more fields that are planted
with genetically modified crops, the less land there will be for
Thirdly, they have discovered that Bt cotton is a less profitable
crop than natural cotton. The average yield per acre may be higher
(Bt 10 quintals, natural 8 quintals), but so is the average overall
cost (Bt 9,000 rupees, natural 5,000 rupees).
Planting natural cotton brought in an extra 500 rupees an acre.