New organic cotton varieties successfully developed
by Tanja Braun (comments: 0)
For decades, it had become difficult for farmers to obtain good quality organic cotton seed. Large companies with their genetically modified (GM) seeds controlled the market and others had not really been developed or were of inferior quality when it came to fibre quality and yield.
This should now change with the newly developed varieties that were developed through a decentralised organic participatory breeding program of FiBL Switzerland and partners.
These new varieties are a success in the fight against the organic cotton seed crisis. They have been tested under organic conditions and officially released on September 8 by the State Seed Sub Committee of Madhya Pradesh, the largest organic cotton-growing state in India. The two first-ever non-GM cotton varieties are high-yielding and meet industrial fibre quality requirements.
Cross-pollination extremely rare
These improved varieties are the outcome of joint efforts made under the project "Seeding the Green Future". The project's main goal is to secure the availability of cotton seed free of genetic modification to improve the integrity of the organic cotton value chain.
Monika Messmer, deputy leader of the Department of Crop Sciences at FiBL Switzerland, explains some important characteristics of the new seeds: "The SGF project focuses on the conservation and use of genetic diversity. To avoid GM contamination, using the native, more robust Desi cotton varieties was an important strategy. These species have morphologically distinct leaf shapes compared to the GM-hybrids and different chromosome numbers making cross-pollination extremely rare".
If you want to read more about the characteristics of the new cotton seeds and the breeding process, you will find more information here.