“The southern Punjab comprises of Bhatinda, Moga, Mukatsar, Faridkot, Mansa and Ferozpur and is a cotton growing region. Wheat, paddy and maize are the crops that are commonly grown in this region. The progressive cotton farmers of this region have adopted Bt cotton because of its significant benefits.
According to a study titled “Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of Bt cotton in India” conducted by Council for Social Development, cotton production in the state increased by 130% per hectare with hybrid Bt cotton seeds. On an average, 81 percent of farmers and landless labourers invested in better quality education for their children, 72 percent reported intake of high value and nutritious food and 41 and 13 percent of farmers purchased livestock and property respectively.
Bt cotton, which was introduced in the state about nine years ago, has in fact reduced the use of specific insecticides. Numerous studies conducted in the state concur pesticide usage in the state have seen a drastic reduction in pesticide use since the introduction of Bt cotton. The Council for Social Development in its study states 88 percent of farmers reported that the quantity and expenditure on pesticide usage on hybrid Bt cotton seeds had reduced over the years, with 90 percent of farmers claiming that Bt cotton had significantly reduced the attack of bollworms.
Third party reports have suggested a rise in incidence of cancer in this region due to factors including but not limited to use of pesticides. Various studies and reports also indicate that ground water in this region contains significantly high amount of uranium, and this has been linked with many deformities/ disorders including cancer. However, there are no clear reports available to explain the high levels of uranium in the ground water. The ground water in many of the hot spots of this region contains more than 60ug/l of uranium, which is beyond the threshold set-up by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), of India.
You may wish to review yourself some of the relevant studies: “Bt cotton and sustainability of pesticide reductions in India”- www.elsevier.com/locate/agsy and “Transgenic Bt Cotton” by the Central Institute for Cotton Research, Nagpur - www.cicr.org.in.
Some recent reports from Government of Punjab indicate that prevalence of cancer in the region has reduced in the recent times: “Disinformation About Pesticides in the Media And the Reality” by Center for Environment and Agrochemicals- http://cropcarefed.in/presentation/2day/S.Ganesan.pdf
In view of the foregoing, it is important that further scientific studies are carried out to fully understand all factors that may be causing the health problems in this region.”