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Bt-Cotton And Its Impact on Livestock & Grazing Animals




  • What is Bt-Cotton????

    BT cotton is genetically modified to contain a natural toxin created by a bacteria whose initials are BT. the bacteria as well as its toxin have long been used in organic farming as it is only activated in a highly basic (as in not acidic) environment which is rather rare in nature except for the digestive system of several butterflies one of which is a major pest in cotton crops.

    Bt-Cotton and Livestock/Grazing Animals:

    No doubt that Bt-Cotton has good yield and insect pest resistance but it also have some drawback on our livestock and grazing animals.Many farmers reported that their animals (cattle, buffaloes, sheep and goat) that have grazed on genetically modified cotton or have been fed genetically modified cotton seeds have fallen sick and in some instances have died.

    Why we graze our animals on Bt-Cotton:

     Grazing on harvested crop residues that remain on the fields, is a regular and common practice of livestock owners in villages. Cotton became an important cash crop across all over the world, gradually replacing the dryland food crops which predominated the region. Livestock owners had no option but to graze their animals on harvested cotton fields, which began to dominate the landscape. They continued to do so for nearly 12 years, prior to the entry of Bt cotton.

     Symptoms in animals After Grazing Bt-Cotton:

     (1)dullness(2)cough(3)nasal discharge(4)reddish and erosive lesions in the mouth(5)bloat(6)blackish diarrhea and occasional red colouredurine,within 2 days of continuously grazing on the cotton crop.

    Post-mortem of Died animal:

    Post-mortem showed that and internal examination of organs revealed severe congestion and haemorrhaging in the lungs and trachea, and severe pitichealhaemorrhaging in all other major organs (liver, kidney, heart, intestines).One of the animals in particular, showed intense discolouration of the intestines which had black patches ,haemorrhages, and a cooked appearance.

     Composition of Bt-Cotton Plant:

    (1) Bt Cotton was positive for organophosphates.

    (2) Bt Cotton positive for Nitrates and Nitrites. Leaves were found to be comparatively strongly positive for Nitrates, in excess of 2%. The samples were negative for  HCN.

    (3) Bt protein content was 5 microgm/gm in both leaf and boll samples which was within the maximum tolerable limits reported  as 5-10 microgram/gm.  The pesticide analyses found traces of pesticides in bolls and leaves.

    Different part wise composition of Bt-Cotton:

    Bt cotton pods: are positive for saponin,  and negative for nitrates and alkoloids
    Bt cotton whole plant: were negative for saponin, nitrates, nitrites and alkoloids 
    Bt cotton leaves: were positive for nitrate or nitrite, and are negative for saponins and alkaloids

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