Agriculture problems - Cotton

Transgenic cotton: are there benefits for conservation?

The WWF-International fact report and the workshop "Cotton and Freshwater" revealed that cotton is one of the most relevant cash crops with severe impacts on freshwater ecosystems on a global scale.

In fact, cotton farming uses more pesticides than any other area of agricultural production. Freshwater pollution due to high inputs of fertilisers and pesticides, wasteful water use and salinisation are the major problems.

Some representants of cotton industry and policy institutions promote transgenic cotton (GM-Cotton) as a possible solution to fight high production costs due to pesticides and to increase the cotton yield per area. In contrast, WWF International seeks a moratorium on release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Objective
The current report is the first step towards an answer to the following project objectives:

  • The report provides an updated study on cultivation of transgenic cotton varieties and accessible results of the releases (e.g. benefits by lower pesticide use, resistance problems).

  • The case study on transgenic cotton serves members of the Freshwater Programme and the FWAG with facts and scientific data on biodiversity impacts of transgenic cotton cultivation with special emphasis on water relevant (quantitative and qualitative) aspects.

  • The relevant stakeholders related to transgenic cotton and their driving forces to introduce transgenic cotton are assessed (e.g. relevant seed suppliers, relevant policy makers, cotton industry, institutions (e.g. NGO's) with campaigns against transgenic cotton, FAO, World Water Vision Thematic Panel on Biotechnology).

  • The study provides well-founded arguments regarding ecological impacts and risks as well as potential benefits of GMO-varieties as a basis to find consent on recommendations for policies and the best management practice for cotton cultivation.

  • The study gives a good background to find a consent for recommendations on transgenic cotton and best management practice for cotton, e.g. in the WWF-International project "Cotton and Freshwater".
Cotton factory, Faisalabad, Pakistan. / ©: WWF-Canon / Mauri RAUTKARI
Cotton factory, Faisalabad, Pakistan.
© WWF-Canon / Mauri RAUTKARI

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