More Than a Fad: Agricultural Biotech Adoption Continues Growth

Biotech seed adoption is growing by leaps and bounds, according to a report released by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications.

The ISAAA report, The Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2009, says a record 14 million farmers in 25 countries now use agricultural biotechnology. Ninety percent, or roughly 13 million, are resource-poor farmers in developing countries.

“The annual ISAAA report is proof-positive that the global adoption of biotech crops — especially corn, soybeans, cotton and canola — increases each year as more farmers gain access to this technology,” says Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, BIO’s executive vice president for food and agriculture. “As the world confronts agricultural challenges such as climate change and a higher than ever demand for food supplies, advances in biotechnology can provide heartier crops that produce more food, often in areas with less than perfect growing conditions.”

The report prominently addresses the global food challenge. With a population headed toward 9.2 billion by 2050, the challenge of yet again doubling food production in only 50 years is daunting, ISAAA points out. Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that the world must double food production sustainably by that time, using fewer resources, on about the same arable land producing food today. Plus, as the report notes, the world will also be responding to climate change, and agribio techniques have been shown to reduce carbon emissions substantially.

“The most promising strategy at this time for increasing global food, feed and fiber productivity is to combine the best of the old and the best of the new, by integrating the best of conventional crop technology and the best of crop biotechnology applications,” notes ISAAA.

Improvements in crop products from this integrated strategy, the report concludes, must be incorporated as the “innovative technology component in a global food, feed and fiber security strategy that must also address other critical issues, including population growth and improved food, feed and distribution systems.”