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Report Shows Biotech Crops Continue to be Favored Globally by Farmers

Millions of farmers around the world have reaped more than US$150 billion in benefits from biotech crops since 1996, according to a new adoption study released today.

Washington, D.C. (April 13, 2016) – Millions of farmers around the world have reaped more than US$150 billion in benefits from biotech crops since 1996, according to a new adoption study released today.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) report, “20th Anniversary of the Global Commercialization of Biotech Crops (1996-2015) and Biotech Crop Highlights in 2015,” details the global adoption of biotech crops.  This year’s report showcases the global increase in biotech adoption from 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) in 1996 to 179.7 million hectares (444 million acres) in 2015.

“This 100-fold increase in just 20 years makes biotechnology the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times, reflecting farmer satisfaction with biotech crops,” the report says.  Especially beneficial in developing countries, agricultural biotechnology has helped alleviate poverty for up to 16.5 million small farmers and their families annually totaling about 65 million people, who are some of the poorest people in the world.

"In both industrialized and developing countries, agriculture and food production is hindered by invasive pests, disease and the challenges of climate change,” says Brian Baenig, Executive Vice President, Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).  “Biotechnology can provide the tools – including seeds with drought tolerance, insect and disease resistance, herbicide tolerance, and crops with enhanced nutrition.”

“Our world’s farmers and growers need modern technology to help provide for a global population of 9 billion people by 2050.  Eighteen million farmers can attest to the environmental and economic benefits they see first-hand with biotech crop varieties,” said Baenig. 

Among the report’s highlights:

- Following a remarkable run of 19 years of consecutive growth from 1996 to 2014, with 12 years of double-digit growth, the global hectarage of biotech crops peaked at 181.5 million hectares (448.5 million acres) in 2014, compared with 179.7 million hectares (444 million acres) in 2015, equivalent to a net marginal decrease of 1 percent; 

--- This change is principally due to an overall decrease in total crop hectarage, associated with low prices for commodity crops in 2015; 
 
- 18 million farmers, 90 percent of which are small, resource-poor growers, in 28 countries (20 developing, 8 industrial) planted biotech crops in 2015;
 
- The United States saw a number of firsts in 2015 including the commercialization of new products such as:
 
--- Innate™ Generation 1 potatoes, with lower levels of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen, and resistance to bruising. InnateTM Generation 2, approved in 2015, also has late blight resistance. It is noteworthy that the potato is the fourth most important food crop in the world; 
--- Arctic® Apples that do not brown when sliced;
--- The first non-transgenic genome-edited crop to be commercialized globally, SU Canola™, was planted in the United States;
--- The first-time approval of a GM animal food product, GM salmon, for human consumption;
 
- For the fourth consecutive year, developing countries planted more biotech crops (14.5 million hectares) than industrialized countries;
 
--- Vietnam commercialized stacked biotech maize in 2015 for the first time; 
--- Cuba, which has planted biotech maize for the last two years will resume planting of biotech maize in two years’ time when their improved maize hybrids are ready for deployment;
 
- India became the leading cotton producer in the world with much of its growth attributed to biotech Bt cotton; 11.6 million hectares (28.7 million acres) of cotton were planted in 2015 by 7.7 million small farmers; In 2014 and 2015, an impressive 95 percent of India’s cotton crop was planted with biotech seed;
 
- China’s adoption in 2015 was 96 percent; Between 1997 and 2014, biotech cotton varieties brought an estimated $17.5 billion worth of benefits to Chinese cotton farmers, and they realized $1.3 billion in 2014 alone. 
 

*The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) report, “20th Anniversary of the Global Commercialization of Biotech Crops (1996-2015) and Biotech Crop Highlights in 2015,” and accompanying materials are posted at www.isaaa.org.

About BIO
BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIOtechNOW is BIO's blog chronicling “innovations transforming our world” and the BIO Newsletter is the organization’s bi-weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to the BIO Newsletter.