BIO Statement Regarding USDA Planting Estimates of Genetically Modified Seeds

(Dr. Val Giddings, vice president for food and agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) issued the following statement in response to today's U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates of acreage planted with genetically modified seeds.)

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2000) --"Today's report demonstrates the continued high confidence U.S. farmers have placed in the improved seeds produced through biotechnology. In nearly every single crop category, producers have increased their purchase of the biotech alternative to help them better manage their crop production. The expected drop in BT corn plantings is attributed to a decreased presence of the European corn borer in many parts of the Midwest -- so farmers found no need to purchase a premium-priced seed for 'insurance' against a problem that does not exist.

"Clearly, the benefits of these improved seed varieties help farmers to strengthen crops by making them more resistant to disease, increase crop yields, and reduce the use of pesticides as part of an integrated pest management program.

"As the American farmer continues to lead the world in productivity, the biotechnology industry is making rapid advances in developing the tools needed to feed the world in the 21st century. Just as we anticipate important medical advances as a result of this week's announcement of the completion of mapping the human genome, researchers are also decoding crops to identify the genes will make them more resistant to drought, disease and other forces of nature. By overcoming these obstacles, biotechnology will continue to greatly increase farmers' ability to grow the food and fiber necessary to feed and clothe families in this country and around the world."

Below are 1999 and 2000 acreage data for biotechnology corn, soybean and cotton crops as a percentage of total crops planted. (For a complete table showing acreage and comparison with total crop acreage contact BIO.)

Biotech share of total acreage
Corn: (1999) 37%; (2000) 25%
Soybeans: (1999) 47%; (2000) 54%
Cotton: (1999) 48%; (2000) 61%

BIO represents more than 900 companies, academic institutions and biotech centers in 49 states and 26 nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental products.