Varietal Integrity, Damage Abatement, and Productivity: Evidence from the Cultivation of BT Cotton in Pakistan

32 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2016

See all articles by Xingliang Ma

Xingliang Ma

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Melinda Smale

Michigan State University

David J. Spielman

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Patricia Zambrano

IFPRI

Hina Nazli

Pakistan Strategy Support Program of IFPRI

Fatima Zaidi

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Date Written: April 7, 2016

Abstract

BT cotton remains one of the most widely grown biotech crops among smallholder farmers. Numerous studies, including those previously conducted in Pakistan, attest to its yield and cost advantages. However, the effectiveness of BT toxin, which depends on many technical constraints, is heterogeneous. Furthermore, in Pakistan, the diffusion of BT cotton varieties occurred despite a weak regulatory system and without seed quality control; evidence demonstrates that varieties sold as BT may not contain the genes or express them effectively. We use data collected from a sample that is statistically representative of the nation’s cotton growers to test the effects of BT cotton use on productivity in a damage control framework. Unlike previous studies, we employ five measures of BT identity: name, official approval status, farmer belief, laboratory tests of BT presence in plant tissue, and biophysical assays measuring BT effectiveness. Only farmers’ belief that a variety is BT affects cotton productivity. Although all measures reduce damage from pests, the biophysical indicators have the largest effect, and official approval has the weakest. For applied economists, findings highlight the importance of getting the data right concerning BT. For policy makers, they suggest the need, on ethical if not productivity grounds, to monitor variety integrity closer to point of sale.

Keywords: biotechnology, cotton, damage abatement, Pakistan

Suggested Citation

Ma, Xingliang and Smale, Melinda and Spielman, David J. and Zambrano, Patricia and Nazli, Hina and Zaidi, Fatima, Varietal Integrity, Damage Abatement, and Productivity: Evidence from the Cultivation of BT Cotton in Pakistan (April 7, 2016). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1520, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2814665

Xingliang Ma (Contact Author)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifpri.org

Melinda Smale

Michigan State University ( email )

MI
United States

David J. Spielman

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Patricia Zambrano

IFPRI ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Hina Nazli

Pakistan Strategy Support Program of IFPRI ( email )

House # 26A, Street 8, F-7/3
Islamabad, 44000
Pakistan

Fatima Zaidi

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

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