Farmers Increasingly Favor Biotech Crops

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Adoption of agricultural biotechnology increased six percent over past year as developing countries play leading role

Farmers around the world continue to adopt genetically engineered (GE) crops because of their tremendous environmental and economic benefits as well as their ability to contribute to food security, according to a report released today by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The ISAAA report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2012, says a record 17.3 million farmers in 28 countries are growing biotech crops on 420 million acres.

According to the report, “such adoption represents a stunning 100-fold increase in hectares planted since 1996, making biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history.”

Dr. Cathleen Enright, Executive Vice President, Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to the report’s findings:  

“This year’s ISAAA report adds increasing evidence that agricultural biotechnology is a key component in sustainable crop production. Biotechnology provides solutions for today’s farmers in the form of plants that yield more per acre, resist diseases and insect pests, and reduce farmers’ production costs, pesticide applications and on-farm fuel use.

“When you look at the rising number of acres of biotech crops planted each year (420 million in 2012 compared with 395 million in 2011), and the increasing number of farmers who have chosen this technology (17.3 million in 2012 compared with 16.7 million in 2011), it can’t be denied that biotech crops are delivering value to more and more growers around the world.

“For the first time ever, developing countries grew more: 52 percent of global biotech crops compared to industrial countries at 48 percent. Resource-poor farmers are truly reaping the benefits of biotech crops as 90 percent (more than 15 million) of the growers utilizing biotech varieties are resource-poor farmers in developing countries. The growth rate for biotech crops in developing countries (11 percent or 21 million acres)  was at least three times as fast, and five times as large as in industrial countries (3 percent or 4 million acres).

“As food insecurity becomes an increasing global concern, the productivity gains from biotechnology are enabling society to better feed a global population using less land, water and a reduced carbon footprint.

“The United States remains the top country in terms of biotech acreage as more than 172 million acres of biotech crops were planted in 2012. The primary biotech crops grown in the United States are corn, cotton and soybeans, but also grown are sugar beets, alfalfa, canola, papaya and squash.

“Over the past two decades, we have seen how biotechnology can improve crop production through insect resistance and herbicide tolerant traits. But in the development pipeline are crops that thrive in drought-prone areas, can improve the nutrition content of foods and can produce alternative energy sources. The continued adoption of the technology in developed and developing countries is testament to the importance of the technology to farmers and food and fuel production around the world. It is also an indication that governments and societies recognize what investment in the technology can mean to their countries’ and the world’s ability to combat hunger with reduced environmental impact.   

*The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2012 and accompanying materials are posted at

About BIO
BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIOtechNOW is BIO's blog chronicling “innovations transforming our world” and the BIO Newsletter is the organization’s bi-weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to the BIO Newsletter.