Acta Univ. Agric. Silvic. Mendelianae Brun. 2020, 68, 25-38

https://doi.org/10.11118/actaun202068010025
Published online 2020-02-27

Czech Farmers' Experience with Bt Maize: Fulfilment, and the Opposite, of Monsanto's Promises

Veronika Chvátalová

Department of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Žerotínovo nám. 617/9, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic

Received January 15, 2019
Accepted January 28, 2020

Genetically modified (GM) Bt maize MON810 is promoted as being beneficial for farmers and the environment. The aim of this study was to compare particular claims of the benefits associated with this GM maize with Czech farmers' practice. Ten semi-structured interviews and 27 questionnaires obtained from Czech farmers who had grown Bt maize for at least one year in 2005–2016 were analysed qualitatively. The alleged benefits of MON810 cultivation regarding lower levels of fungal disease infestation, yield increase, reduction of insecticide usage, lowered costs, time saving and simple manipulation were enjoyed by a varying proportion of Czech GM farmers. In contrast, some farmers experienced the opposite of the claimed benefit regarding yield, costs, manipulation and time requirements. The exception was the 100% control of the European Corn Borer (ECB). The current and previous studies suggest that most of the benefits manifest themselves rather on farms under high ECB pressure. Seen from an economic viewpoint, the cultivation of Bt maize could be recommended in areas with persistent high corn borer pressure. However, the benefit to the environment is challenged and it is suggested that farmers should employ a complex of cultural control methods.

Funding

I would like to express my appreciation to all the farmers who enabled this study to emerge by sharing their experience. My thanks also go to Lubica Lacinová, Zbyněk Ulčák and Ivana Vlachová for consulting the interview guide and providing helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This paper was written at Masaryk University as part of the project “Current environmental challenges: ways to overcome dissension between nature and society” [MUNI/A/0957/2017] with the support of the Specific University Research Grant, as provided by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic in the year 2018.

References

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