GM cotton doesn’t cut pesticide use long term, new research indicates

Biotech giant Monsanto touts its genetically modified cotton seed — spliced with the bollworm-killing Bt toxin — as money- and earth-saving, because it lowers the need for pesticide use. Funny story about that: a new study found that cotton farmers using the seed soon fell back into heavier pesticide use. Researchers from Cornell University followed 481 cotton growers in China who had been using Monsanto’s Bt seed, which is two to three times more expensive than conventional cotton seed. They found that for the first three years the farmers grew GM cotton, they used 70 percent less pesticides, thus earning 36 percent more income than non-GM growers. But then other bugs popped up that would normally have been killed by bollworm pesticides; after seven years, the GM-ers were using nearly as much pesticide as non-GMers, and had an income 8 percent lower. More than a third of the world’s cotton is grown from Monsanto’s Bt seeds, with over 105 million acres in the U.S. alone.