WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 6, 2014) – Farmers around the world who use seeds improved with biotechnology are benefitting economically while improving the environmental sustainability of their farming operations according to a newly released global impacts study.
The economic benefits for farmers who use genetically modified (GM) seeds amounted to an average of more than $117/hectare in 2012, according to the report “GM Crops: Global Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts 1996-2012” released today by PG Economics.
“Half of the farm income gains and the majority of the environmental gains associated with changes in pesticide use and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions occurred in developing countries,” said Graham Brookes, co-author of the report.
"Dr. Cathleen Enright, executive vice president for food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), points out that the report’s findings regarding biotechnology’s contributions to the environment are equally significant.
“The increased use of insect-resistant crops has reduced the need for chemical insecticides and the adoption of herbicide-tolerant crops have enabled farmers to switch to more benign herbicides to help control weeds,” says Enright. “In addition, the switch to no-till cropping systems by farmers growing herbicide-tolerant crops has reduced on-farm fuel use, enhanced soil quality and cut greenhouse gas emissions.”
"The PG Economics annual global impacts report quantifies the impact of agricultural biotechnology on the environment and on farmer incomes since biotech’s commercialization in 1996. Among the key findings:
• Biotech crops have contributed to significantly reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices. This results from less fuel use and additional soil carbon storage from reduced tillage with biotech crops
• In 2012, this was equivalent to removing 27 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing 11.9 million cars from the road for one year.
• Crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying(1996-2012) by 503 million kg (-8.8%).
• "As a result, the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on the area planted to biotech crops decreased by 18.7 percent.
• The insect resistant (IR) technology used in GM cotton and GM corn has consistently delivered yield gains from reduced pest damage. The average yield gains over the 1996-2012 period across all users of this technology has been +10.4 percent for insect resistant corn and +16.1 percent for insect resistant cotton.
• "Farmers who use improved seeds and grow biotech crops have seen substantial net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to $18.8 billion in 2012 and $116.6 billion for the 17 year (1996-2012)period.
• The highest yield gains were obtained by farmers in developing countries, many of which are resource-poor and farm small plots of land;
• The total farm income gain of $116.6 billion was divided equally between farmers in developing and developed countries.
• Between 1996 and 2012, crop biotechnology was responsible for an additional 122 million tonnes of soybeans and 231 million tonnes of corn. The technology has also contributed an extra 18.2 million tonnes of cotton lint and 6.6 million tonnes of canola.
**To download the full report, “GM Crops: Global Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts 1996-2012”, visit www.pgeconomics.co.uk