The number of countries producing cotton with biotech traits has grown to 15, and more are completing the processes associated with regulatory approval prior to adoption. The fees associated with biotechnology and the need for biosafety protocols are hindering the spread of biotechnology. The existence of specific constraints to cotton production, including the Cotton Leaf Curl virus in Pakistan and the boll weevil in South America, limit the economic value of varieties with biotech traits in regions where such diseases or pests are dominant.
The Round Table for Biotechnology in Cotton Production was formed at the instruction of the 69th Plenary Meeting of the ICAC in Lubbock, Texas, USA in September 2010. The Round Table consists of experts from nine countries having extensive experience in research and the commercialization of biotech cotton. The full report of the Round Table will be delivered to the 72nd Plenary Meeting of the ICAC in Cartagena, Colombia, on September 29, 2013. The meeting is open. Additional information is available from Dr. Rafiq Chaudhry, Head Technical Information Section, ICAC Secretariat, Rafiq@ICAC.org.
Data reported by the ICAC Secretariat indicate that since the commercial introduction of biotechnology in cotton in 1996, there has been no evidence of consumer rejection, nor is there evidence of price premiums or discounts for cotton with biotech traits in world markets. However, members of the Round Table on Biotechnology in Cotton Production indicate that some countries impose exceptionally strict regulations on imports of biotech cotton. Round Table members urge technology developers to ensure that all regulatory approval processes have been completed in major consuming markets.
Round Table members report that the development of resistance by insects to Bt toxins and weeds to the herbicide glysophate is of concern to all biotech cotton producing countries. Unfortunately, some countries are relaxing resistance-management requirements. The Round Table will recommend that countries must adopt resistance mitigation measures early to be effective.