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  • Biotech cotton in world textile trade

    Chapter 1 - The world cotton market - Overview 


    New technologies, more extensive use of existing technologies, and new areas dedicated to cotton cultivation have changed the structure of the world cotton market since the mid-1990s. Among the new technologies, the most visible is genetic engineering of cotton. It is estimated that 36% of world cotton area, accounting for nearly half of world production, was planted in biotech varieties in 2006/07, up from just 2% in 1996/97 (see figure 1.18). Biotech cotton reduces the use of insecticides and, although it does not guarantee that cotton yields will be higher than with a non-biotech variety, its use might lower the cost of production.


    Source: ICAC

    Biotech cotton is entering the world textile trade pipeline in increasing volumes as a result of growing world production and exports from the United States and Australia, and textile exports from China. Based on the production shares of biotech cotton in exporting countries, it is estimated that biotech cotton accounted for 45% of world exports in 2005/06. Biotech varieties are expected to account for 40% of world cotton area and close to half of world production in 2007/08.

    Based on domestically produced and imported biotech cotton, especially in China, it is estimated that 60% of mill use in Asia and Oceania was accounted for by biotech cotton. Asia and Oceania together account for more than 65% of world exports of cotton textiles, so it is evident that the share of biotech cotton in textiles traded in major markets in Europe and America is rising. Despite an increasing share of biotech cotton traded in the world, there are no price differentials for biotech and non-biotech cotton fibre, or textiles containing biotech cotton. There is no evidence of rejection of biotech cotton by any segment of the market or region. In practice, markets do not identify biotech cotton content, but rather evaluate cotton properties based on quality characteristics.