Agricultural Biotechnology’s Environmental Success Story

Enhanced Sustainability and Reduced Environmental Footprint

Agricultural biotechnology has helped enable large shifts in agronomic practices that have led to significant and widespread environmental benefits. No-till agriculture, in limited use prior to 1996, has been widely adopted due to the superior weed control from biotech crops that are able to tolerate herbicides with low environmental impacts. This has led to improved soil health and water retention, reduced runoff, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Peer-reviewed scientific studies have repeatedly found biotech varieties to be much friendlier to the environment, more sustainable than conventional counterparts, and far more economical and productive than organic.

Protecting Soil and Water

Farmers have found that the use of biotech crops can reduce the need for plowing to control weeds. This leads to better conservation of soil and water and a decrease in soil erosion and soil compaction. No-till agriculture has enabled farmers to shift to more effective, simpler weed control regimes. In terms of Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) calculations and volume of active ingredient, global use of herbicides and insecticides has declined since the introduction of biotech crops. Active ingredient use in herbicides and insecticides has decreased 630 million pounds between 1996 and 2006, or a 7.8 percent reduction. In the United States alone, pesticide applications are estimated to have been reduced by nearly 70 million pounds in 2005.