[back] Vandana Shiva
Monsanto's Bt Cotton Kills the Soil
as Well as Farmers
Biosafety refers to ensuring that GMO’s do not harm
the environment or health.
The soil, its fertility, and the organisms which
maintain the fertility of soil are a vital aspect of the
environment, especially in the context of food and
A recent scientific study carried out by Navdanya,
compared the soil of fields where Bt-cotton had been
planted for 3 years with adjoining fields with non GMO
cotton or other crops. The region covered included
Nagpur, Amravati and Wardha of Vidharbha which accounts
for highest GMO cotton planting in India, and the
highest rate of farmers suicides (4000 per year).
In 3 years, Bt-cotton has reduced the population of
Actinomycetes by 17%. Actinomycetes are vital for
breaking down cellulose and creating humus.
Bacteria were reduced by 14%. The total microbial
biomass was reduced by 8.9%.
Vital soil beneficial enzymes which make nutrients
available to plants have also been drastically reduced.
Acid Phosphatase which contributes to uptake of
phosphates was reduced by 26.6%. Nitrogenase enzymes
which help fix nitrogen were reduced by 22.6%.
At this rate, in a decade of planting with GM cotton,
or any GM crop with Bt genes in it, could lead to total
destruction of soil organisms, leaving dead soil unable
to produce food.
The ISAAA in its recent release has stated that there
are 7.6 mha of Bt-cotton in India. This means 7.6 mha of
The impact of GMO’s on soil organisms is not commonly
studied. This is a vital lacunae because Bt toxin crops
such as Mon 810 corn or Bt-cotton or Bt Brinjal have
serious impact on beneficial soil organisms.
The government of India is trying to grant approval
to Bt Brinjal without Bio safety studies on impact on
Soil organisms. The European Commissión is trying to put
pressure on GMO free countries to introduce Mon 810.
The Navdanya study the first that has looked at the
long term impact of Bt cotton on soil organisms is a
wake up to regulators worldwide. It also shows that the
claims of the Biotechnology industry about the safety of
GM crops are false.
To get a copy of the report and for further
information, please contact –
A-60, Hauz Khas
New Delhi – 110 016
Phone : 91-11-26535422 / 26532124