New Heights: Report Shows Continued Growth of Biotech Crops

Farmers across the globe increasingly are planting genetically modified crops, according to a new report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. 

The ISAAA data contained within the reportGlobal Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2010, details the ongoing proliferation of biotech crops as the agricultural community continues to realize the benefits. Perhaps most encouraging: Developing countries are among the leaders when it comes to adopting biotech agriculture. 

In 2010, according to the report, biotech crop area grew 10 percent. That figure represents 34.6 million acres of farmland, bringing total acreage worldwide for GM crops to 366 million acres. 

The nonprofit ISAAA shares knowledge about crop biotechnology to educate the global community about the attributes and potential of new agricultural technologies. They have tracked global biotech crop trends since the first uses of these crops in 1996. 

“The 2010 ISAAA report proves once again that the global adoption of biotech crops — especially corn, soybeans and cotton — is on the rise as more and more farmers gain access to this beneficial technology,” says Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, BIO’s executive vice president for food and agriculture. “Agricultural biotechnology provides solutions for today’s growers in the form of plants that are more environmentally friendly while yielding more per acre, resisting diseases and insect pests, and reducing farmers’ production costs.” 

In the Developing World

Moreover, in the past year, biotech crops were being grown in 29 countries, up from 25 in 2009. Three countries — Myanmar, Pakistan and Sweden — began growing the crops commercially for the first time, while Germany resumed planting biotech crops after a brief hiatus. The statistics reflect the widening adoption of biotech crops.

In the 15 years since the commercialization of agri-biotech, GM crops have increased 87-fold, to become the fastest adopted crop technology in modern agriculture. 

“When you look at the rising number of acres of biotech crops planted each year, and the increasing number of farmers who have chosen this technology,” Lauritsen says, “it’s obvious that biotech crops are delivering value to more and more growers around the world.” 

The report’s findings suggest this to be particularly true in developing and low-resource nations. Overall, developing countries accounted for 48 percent of global biotech crops in 2010. The report predicts that this figure will increase and that developing countries will exceed industrialized nations in biotech crop production by 2015. 

Finally, ISAAA outlined factors that will be essential to further adoption of biotech crops: strong political support, appropriate and cost-effective regulatory systems, and the ability to make them available to the developing regions of the world.