Keywords: genetic engineering, India, pesticide use, Bt eggplants, agricultural biotechnology, bacillus thuringiensis, GM crops, genetically modified crops, aubergines, pesticide productivity, developing countries
Is genetically engineered technology a good alternative to pesticide use: the case of GE eggplant in India
Are pesticides used efficiently in eggplant cultivation? Is Genetically Engineered (GE) eggplant a good alternative to pesticide use? Building on the literature on damage control specification for production functions, we estimated the pesticide productivity for eggplant, using data from a farm-level survey conducted in Maharashtra, India. Even though the intensity of pesticide use by Open Pollinated Variety (OPV) growers is less relative to hybrid growers, the average use of pesticides is substantially greater than the estimated optimum use levels. We then used Bt trial plot data to estimate the potential benefits that Bt technology might provide in terms of reduction in pesticide application. If the adoption of GE eggplant reduces the pesticide use by 52%, as is reported from the field trials of GE eggplant, that will result in a saving of Rs. 6844/acre for hybrid growers and Rs. 2784/acre for OPV growers. Results from our study suggest that GE technology provides a good alternative to pesticide use for farmers in developing countries such as India.