Developing countries plant 52% of biotech crops

Developing countries plant 52% of biotech crops

For the first time since genetically modified (GM) crops hit the commercial market, developing countries are growing more hectares of biotech crops than industrialized countries are, according to a new report on the global status of biotech adoption.

FOR the first time since genetically modified (GM) crops hit the commercial market, developing countries are growing more hectares of biotech crops than industrialized countries are, according to a new report on the global status of biotech adoption.

Developing nations planted 52% of the biotech acreage planted globally in 2012, up from 50% in 2011.

The report, issued by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), notes that 2012 was a milestone for another reason: It marked a 100-fold increase in biotech acreage from 1996, the year GM crops were first commercially available. In 1996, GM varieties comprised 1.7 million hectares, and by 2012, they tallied more than 170 million.

"This makes biotech crops the fastest-adopted crop technology in recent history," Clive James, ISAAA chairman and author of the report, said. "This growth is contrary to the prediction of critics who, prior to the commercialization of the technology in 1996, prematurely declared that biotech crops were only for industrial countries and would never be accepted and adopted in developing countries."

The ISAAA report notes not just the growth in adoption by the developing world but also how that adoption rate is accelerating compared with the industrialized world. The biotech growth rate was at least three times as fast and five times as large in developing versus industrial countries.

In total, ISAAA found that 28 countries currently plant biotech crops, and 20 of those are designated as developing. Sudan and Cuba each planted biotech seeds for the first time in history, with Sudan becoming the fourth country in Africa to commercialize a biotech crop.

In 2012, the U.S. remained the largest producer of GM crops at 69.5 million hectares (Table), but Brazil adopted the technology most rapidly, recording 21% growth in planted area from 2011. Of all countries to commercialize biotech varieties, 18 now grow more than 50,000 hectares of GM crops.

In several countries, biotech adoption is nearly universal, depending on the crop. On average, biotech adoption has reached 90% across all crops in the U.S., for example, while India has reached 93% adoption in cotton and Canada 97.5% adoption in canola.

According to the report, smallholder and resource-poor farmers may be the largest beneficiaries of biotech crops. Of the record 17.3 million farmers that grew GM varieties in 2012, more than 90% were considered small, resource-poor farmers in developing countries.

"Increasingly, farmers face more challenges in producing high-quality foods -- from extreme growing conditions to rising consumer demand to reduced availability of natural resources," said Denise Dewar, executive director for plant biotechnology at CropLife International, an association promoting agricultural technologies. "Plant biotechnology can play a significant role in developing countries, which face the most extreme food security and productivity challenges."

Dewar said for the 15 million smallholder farmers growing biotech crops, the benefits of increased production and productivity are transforming communities and offering unprecedented opportunities for economic development.

The ISAAA study found that producers of biotech cotton in India, for example, send their children to school at higher rates than those growing conventional varieties, while the average biotech farmer in Brazil earned an additional $100,000 over the past four years than if he had grown conventional crops.

Despite having their vocal detractors, GM crops continue to benefit farmers abroad, according to the ISAAA report.

 

Global area of biotech crops in 2012 (million hectares)

Rank

Country

Area

Biotech crops

1

U.S.

69.5

Maize, soybeans, cotton, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa, papaya, squash

2

Brazil

36.6

Soybeans, maize, cotton

3

Argentina

23.9

Soybeans, maize, cotton

4

Canada

11.6

Canola, maize, soybeans, sugar beets

5

India

10.8

Cotton

6

China

4.0

Cotton, papaya, poplar, tomatoes, sweet pepper

7

Paraguay

3.4

Soybeans, maize, cotton

8

South Africa

2.9

Maize, soybeans, cotton

9

Pakistan

2.8

Cotton

10

Uruguay

1.4

Soybeans, maize

11

Bolivia

1.0

Soybeans

12

Philippines

0.8

Maize

13

Australia

0.7

Cotton, canola

14

Burkina Faso

0.3

Cotton

15

Myanmar

0.3

Cotton

16

Mexico

0.2

Cotton, soybeans

17

Spain

0.1

Maize

18

Chile

<0.1

Maize, soybeans, canola

19

Colombia

<0.1

Cotton

20

Honduras

<0.1

Maize

21

Sudan

<0.1

Cotton

22

Portugal

<0.1

Maize

23

Czech Republic

<0.1

Maize

24

Cuba

<0.1

Maize

25

Egypt

<0.1

Maize

26

Costa Rica

<0.1

Cotton, soybeans

27

Romania

<0.1

Maize

28

Slovakia

<0.1

Maize

 

Total

170.3

 

Source: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications.

 

Volume:85 Issue:10

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish