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A disaster in search of success - Bt cotton in global south

A disaster in search of success

International Institute for the Environment and Development
Website: www.iied.org/pubs
2007, DVD-PAL, 50 mins, $18

Bt cotton, a genetically engineered cotton variety, was supposed to revolutionise the lives of cotton farmers around the world, offering resistance to major pests, eliminating the need for pesticides and improving yields.

This documentary, produced by women farmer-filmmakers from India, explores the experience of small Bt cotton farmers in the country as well as those in Indonesia, Thailand, Mali and South Africa, and it finds widespread condemnation of the once-championed variety, which has largely failed to live up to expectations. Rather than improving livelihoods, the film shows that many farmers are now worse-off, after the price of cotton tumbled, the cost of seed rose, and yields struggled to match those of non-GM varieties.

The film assumes some prior knowledge of the background to the Bt cotton saga, as the key issues emerge gradually and somewhat sporadically. The common theme across all the case studies is widespread condemnation of many governments' eager endorsement of Bt cotton without proper trials.

Aimed at a wide audience of researchers, students, practitioners and anyone keen to learn more about the Bt cotton experience from the farmers themselves.

Date published: November 2007


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