Keywords: Bt cotton, secondary pests, biotechnology, environmental impact, bollworm, GMO, genetically modified organisms, pest management, farmers, farmer perceptions, agro-biotechnological innovation, China, ecological change, pesticides, genetic modification, risk assessment, counterfeit seed, innovation management
Farmers' perceptions and risks of agro-biotechnological innovations in China: ecological change in Bt cotton?
This paper furnishes empirical evidence that Chinese farmers have perceived a strong increase in secondary pests (i.e. pests other than the cotton bollworm) after Bt cotton was introduced. The findings suggesting possible ecological change are based on a survey of 1000 farm households in five provinces in China. We also found that farmers continue to use higher levels of pesticide use than reported in previous studies, most likely to bring secondary pests under control. Another problem associated with the introduction of Bt cotton in China is the low awareness and knowledge of genetic modification by farmers. As a result, farmers are insufficiently capable to assess the possible risks of Bt cotton and link these to agricultural production problems. Lastly, the liberalisation of the Chinese seed market had profound negative effects on farmers, as many of them were confronted with counterfeit seed resulting in yield losses. Against this backdrop, we argue that agro-biotechnological innovations in developing economies should be introduced with caution.