People opposed to genetically modified organisms often insist that the plants are no good for anyone except the companies, like Monsanto Co., that sell GMO seeds. A new study may force them to come to terms with the idea that GM crops can benefit regular people too -- even farmers in developing countries like India.
The study, published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, tracked the fortunes of 533 cotton farms in India over eight years. These farming families were poor -- on average, family members consumed no more than $500 worth of goods each year. The typical farm was about 12 acres, with about half the area used to grow cotton. (Wheat, millet, sorghum, rice and other crops were grown on the rest of the land.)
In 2002, 38% of the farms planted cotton that was genetically modified with Bacillus thuringiensis, making it able to ward off insect pests like cotton bollworms without needing extra pesticides. Researchers checked in with farmers every other year. By 2008, 99% of the farms were planting Bt cotton.
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