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Biotech Crops Contribute to Sustainable Farming and Global Food Affordability

April 29, 2010
PG Economics released April 28 its latest reports detailing the global economic and environmental benefits of biotech crops.
Since 1996, biotech crop adoption has contributed to reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, decreased pesticide spraying, significantly boosted farmers’ incomes and resulted in lower real world prices for corn, canola, soybeans and the main derivatives of these crops,” said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics, co-author of the reports. “The technology has also made important contributions to increasing crop yields, reducing production risks, improving productivity and raising global production of key crops. The combination of economic and environmental benefit delivery is therefore making a valuable contribution to improving the sustainability of global agriculture and affordability of food, with these benefits and improvements being greatest in developing countries”

Previewing the findings of the two studies, the key points are:

  • Biotech crops have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reduced tillage practices. In 2008, this was equivalent to removing 15.6 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing 6.9 million cars from the road for one year;

  • Biotech crops have reduced pesticide spraying (1996-2008) by 352 million kg (-8.4 percent) and, as a result, decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on the area planted to biotech crops by 16.3 percent;

  • There have been substantial net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to $9.4 billion in 2008 and $52 billion for the thirteen year period.

  • Since 1996, biotech traits have added 74 million tonnes and 79.7 million tonnes respectively to global production of soybeans and corn. The technology has also contributed an extra 8.6 million tonnes of cotton lint and 4.8 million tonnes of canola;

  • World prices of corn, soybeans and canola would probably be respectively 5.8 percent, 9.6 percent and 3.8 percent higher than 2007 baseline levels if the technology was no longer available to farmers.

The reports are available to download at