Biotech Crop Surge Reaches All-Time High

May 8, 2017 12:32 PM

In the past 21 years, commercialized biotech crops have increased 110-fold to an estimated 185.1 million hectares (about 457 million acres) in 2016, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

“Biotech crops have become a vital agricultural resource for farmers around the world because of the immense benefits for improved productivity and profitability,” according to ISAAA chair of the board, Paul S. Teng. “With the commercial approvals and plantings of new varieties of biotech potatoes and apples, consumers will begin to enjoy direct benefits of biotechnology with produce that is not likely to spoil or be damaged, which in turn has the potential to substantially reduce food waste and consumer grocery costs.”

According to the ISAAA report, “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops,” the group estimates that using biotech crops has the CO2 reduction equivalent of removing 12 million cars from the road each year. They also help farmers apply an estimated 19% fewer herbicide and insecticide use.

Randy Hautea, ISAAA global coordinator, says in developing countries, biotech crops are helping boost incomes for 18 million small farmers and their families, which provides financial stability to up to 65 million people worldwide.

“Biotechnology is one of the tools necessary in helping farmers grow more food on less land,” he says. “However, the promises of biotech crops can only be unlocked if farmers are able to buy and plant these crops, following a scientific approach to regulatory reviews and approvals.”

ISAAA expects worldwide adoption of biotech crops, particularly in developing nations, to continue to trend upward. Developing nations account for 54% of total biotech acres.

Globally, 78% of soybeans, 64% of cotton, 26% of corn and 24% of canola are biotech varieties.

Read the executive summary of ISAAA’s report at

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Spell Check

Bob Phelps
Melbourne Australia, AS
5/9/2017 02:08 AM

  ISAAA's latest annual industry report on global Genetically Manipulated (GM) crop use shows it has stalled. Most GM crops - soy, corn, canola, cotton and sugarbeet - still contain only the two GM crop traits first released in 1996 - Roundup weed killer tolerance and Bt insect toxins. Long promised but never delivered were complex traits such as drought and salt tolerance; nitrogen fixation in grains; more nutritious foods; higher yields; etc. Much public funding was wasted over the past 30 years on trying to bring such crops to fruition, without success. Over 90% of all GM crops were planted last year in just eight North and South American countries. The USA and Brazil - by far the two biggest GM crop producers - drove a small rise in GM plantings but the 24 other GM producer countries had minor increases or declines. Two more countries also banned GM crops in 2016. Burkina Faso had grown 400,000 ha of GM cotton in 2015 but poor GM fibre quality ruined the country's top reputation and down-graded its product. Romania also imposed a national GM ban with farmer support after growing GM maize. Only 18 million farmers - 3% of the world's 570 million growers - grew GM commodities. Most GM production is used for animal feed, biofuels, or fibre, as few people willingly eat it. Faced with hard times, seed giants are merging and cross-licensing their crop traits to stay viable. Soon just three agrochemical and seed conglomerates - Bayer/Monsanto; ChemChina/Syngenta; and Dow/Dupont - will own over 70% of all commercial crop seed globally, including all GM varieties. This powerful cartel will have almost absolute control over key inputs to the global food supply - seed, chemicals, fertilisers, machinery, and information. Food security for future generations is at risk so the concentration of ownership should be prohibited.


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