Technological Opportunity, Regulatory Uncertainty, and Bt Cotton in Pakistan
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Genetically modified, insect-resistant Bt cotton has been adopted extensively across Pakistan’s cotton-growing regions during the past decade, and prior studies have linked Bt cotton adoption to both reductions in on-farm production costs and increases in cotton yields. However, studies also suggest that there is much confusion in the market for Bt cotton seed, stemming largely from weak regulation and the dissemination of seed of unknown quality to farmers. The persistence of uncertainty in Pakistan’s market for Bt cotton seed may have consequences for cotton production, rural livelihoods, and Pakistan’s wider economy. This article aims to shed new light on Bt cotton in Pakistan. First, the article explores the technological, economic, and institutional aspects to Bt cotton, the history of its introduction in Pakistan, and the controversy that has accompanied it during the past decade. Second, the article characterizes cotton-producing households across several dimensions using household survey data collected in 2012. Third, the article examines areas for further policy-relevant research that could improve the capacity of cotton-producing households in Pakistan to realize greater benefits from Bt cotton cultivation.