GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
  Nov 26, 2014 | 6:14 pm
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Crops

Cotton


Cotton is more than just a fibre for textiles. It is also an important source of raw materials used in animal feed and for various processed food ingredients. Many countries are now growing genetically modified cotton. In China, GM cotton could drastically reduce pesticide use.

Cotton fibres used in textiles around the world come from the seed hairs of a plant known as Gossypium hirsutum. Cotton, which is cultivated on five continents, develops in closed, green capsules known as bolls that burst open when ripe, revealing the white, fluffy fibres.

A bollworm on a cotton boll. Insect pests are a problem for cotton.

Bt cotton is an alternative to chemical insecticides.

 

After harvest, the fibres must be separated from the seeds. The protein- and oil-rich seeds can be processed into various side-products that are used in food and feed:

  • Cottonseed oil is a high-value cooking or frying oil and is sometimes used to make margarine. The oil is also a source of vitamin E (tocopherol).

  • Protein-rich cottonseed meal is mostly used as animal feed. Some, however, is used for protein preparations and cottonseed milk.

  • Leftover fibres that are too short to be spun into textiles consist almost completely of cellulose and can be used as food additives. Cellulose (E 460) and methylcellulose (E 461) can be used as thickeners, stabilisers, emulsifiers, or fillers.

Bt cotton cultivation in many countries

GM cotton has become widespread, covering a total of 15 million hectares in 2007, or 43 percent of the world's cotton. Most GM cotton is grown in India and the US, but it can also be found in China, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, Mexico, and Columbia. The GM cultivars grown today are resistant to herbicides orinsect pests.

More than half (68%) of China's cotton production is genetically modified to produce a substance (Bt toxin) that protects it against insect pests. A few types of caterpillars are especially problematic because they bore into cotton bolls reducing yield and compromising quality. Cotton used to be protected from insects by repeated pesticide applications. Bt cotton has now enabled Chinese farmers to dramatically reduce pesticide use.

The production of GM cotton has not yet been approved in the EU. Applications have been submitted, but a decision is still pending. Several lines of GM cotton have been approved in the EU, but only for use as food and feed.

 

 


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information

Crops and Cereals
Gm Plants: Cultivation and Futur Projects
Soybeans
Maize
Rape Seed
Cotton
Sugar beet
Wheat
Potato
Rice
December 4, 2008 [nach oben springen]

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