Keywords: genetic modification, genetically modified crops, GM crops, agricultural biotechnology, bacillus thuringiensis, Bt cotton, farmer livelihoods, South Africa, developing countries, investment, economic impact
Impact of Bt cotton on farmer livelihoods in South Africa
The economic benefits of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in developing countries have been well documented, but little research has been undertaken to date on the impacts of GM adoption on household livelihoods. The research reported here aimed to assess the livelihood impacts of the adoption of Bt cotton in South Africa., and involved 100 interviews of resource-poor farmers growing Bt cotton in Makhathini Flats, South Africa. Some 88% of respondents reported a higher income from Bt compared to non-Bt varieties previously grown by them, and this higher income was used primarily for greater education of their children (76%), more investment in growing cotton (46%), repaying debt (28%), investment in other crops (20%) and spending money on themselves. Some 89% had increased their asset base due to Bt cotton, primarily by increasing their cultivable land. These benefits of Bt adoption appeared widespread regardless of gender or farm size.