Washington, D.C. (February 13, 2014) – Millions of farmers around the world continue to choose to plant and replant genetically modified (GM) crop varieties because of their environmental and socio-economic benefits and the important role they play in maintaining food security, according to a new study.
The report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2013, released annually by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), says a record 18 million farmers in 27 countries are growing biotech crops on 433 million acres.
"With the challenges of food insecurity and climate change, the productivity gains from GM crop technology are helping to feed a global population using less land, water and more environmentally friendly farming practices," says Dr. Cathleen Enright, Executive Vice President, Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
According to the report, “The global hectarage of biotech crops have increased more than 100-fold from 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) in 1996 to more than 175 million hectares in 2013 (433 million acres), making biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history.”
“We strongly support farmer choice, and we believe farmers have the right to choose to plant the seeds that work best for their operations. Eighteen million farmers around the world are testament to the benefits that agricultural biotechnology provides,” said Enright.
Among the report’s highlights:
• 2013, was the 18th year of biotech crop commercialization (1996-2013), when growth continued after a remarkable 17 consecutive years of increases; notably 12 of the 17 years were double-digit growth rates.
• Of the 27 countries which planted biotech crops in 2013, 19 were developing and 8 were industrial countries.
• The United States remains the top producing country in terms of acreage growing 173 million acres in 2013 of corn, cotton, soybeans, sugarbeets, papaya, alfalfa, canola and squash.
• Along with the United States, the top five producing countries in terms of acreage are Brazil, Argentina, India and Canada, respectively.
• Bangladesh approved a biotech crop (Bt eggplant) for planting for the first time in 2013.
• Panama and Indonesia, also approved cultivation of biotech crops in 2013 for commercialization in 2014 (these countries are not included in the data for the 2013 ISAAA report).
• For the fifth consecutive year, Brazil increased its hectarage of biotech crops more than any other country in the world – a record 3.7 million hectare increase, equivalent to an impressive year-over-year increase of 10 percent.
“Over the past two decades, we have seen how biotechnology can improve crop production through insect resistance and herbicide tolerant traits,” said Enright. “But GM crops can also thrive in drought-prone areas, can improve the nutrition content of foods and can produce alternative energy sources.”
“The continued adoption of GM crops is also an indication that governments clearly recognize what investment in biotechnology can mean to their countries’ ability to better feed, fuel and heal the world.”
*The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2013 and accompanying materials are posted at www.isaaa.org.
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