U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow announced her “Grow it Here, Make it Here” plan will encourage bio-based manufacturing in Michigan by giving tax cuts to businesses who invest in bio-manufacturing or purchase equipment to manufacture bio-based products. If adopted, the plan will lead to heightened investment and job creation.
She joined with President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to call for a 50% increase in government purchases of new bio-based products to boost America’s rural economy through innovative agriculture.
Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “The companies that manufacture these goods employ about 100,000 Americans - many of them in rural communities - by marrying together two important economic engines: agriculture and manufacturing.” Read more.
The Washington Post and the New York Times offered highlights from Bill Gates’ address earlier today at the UN’s International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) Farmers’ Forum, where he called for the creation of common measurable targets for agricultural productivity in order to establish accountability and enable investors to identify the most effective methods of development.
He stressed the importance of employing high-tech agricultural solutions, saying the “use of such techniques can make the difference between suffering and self-sufficiency” for small farmers in developing countries. Gates also announced $20 million in new grants that will go towards both new and pre-existing projects whose aim is to reduce poverty through agricultural productivity.
According to Reuters and Bloomberg, China signed agreements in Iowa to purchase biotech soybeans from American suppliers, strengthening the trade relationship between the two countries. The Wall Street Journal noted that Iowa is the nation’s biggest grower of biotech soybeans, while China is the world’s biggest importer and consumer.
The following day, Chinese and U.S. officials, including China’s Vice President Xi Jinping, attended the USDA’s first inaugural “U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium” in Des Moines. The USDA announced that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu had signed a historic Plan of Strategic Cooperation, designed to guide the two countries’ agricultural relationship over the next 5 years.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explained, “This plan builds on the already strong relationship our nations enjoy around agricultural science, trade, and education. It looks to deepen our cooperation through technical exchange and to strengthen coordination in priority areas like animal and plant health and disease, food security, sustainable agriculture, genetic resources, agricultural markets and trade, and biotechnology and other emerging technologies.”
Dr. Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School and author of The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2011), writes a guest blog discussing the implications of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) 2011 report on major developments impacting biotech crop adoption worldwide.
By Calestous Juma
This year’s announcement by ISAAA that the adoption of transgenic crops continues to expand at 8% per year since 1996-when biotech crops first became available to U.S. farmers- is a signal of the transformational role that biotechnology is already having on agriculture. ISAAA reports that biotech crops contributed to mitigating climate change, alleviating poverty and improving global food security. Most notably, it states that between 1996 and 2010, biotech crops increased “crop production and value by $78 billion.” In 2010 alone, the technology contributed to “conserving biodiversity by saving 91 million hectares of land; and helped alleviate poverty by helping 15.0 million small farmers who are some of the poorest people in the world.”
The evidence is stacking up against critics of biotechnology. Earlier claims that transgenic crops were likely to have dramatic negative impacts on the environment will not continue to enjoy the kind of support they did 15 years ago. What is needed now is a more balanced assessment that looks at all the evidence available to date to determine the role of biotechnology in addressing climate change and global food needs.
The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report on the global status of commercialized biotech crops in 2011. The ISAAA report discusses major developments impacting biotech crop adoption and its implications for the future, including this year’s 8% increase of hectarage dedicated to biotech crops and numerous advancements made by millions of farmers in developing countries. The technology plays an important role in feeding the world, which reached an unprecedented 7 billion people in October of last year.
Take a look at the full ISAAA report below to find out more about the 29 countries that have adopted biotech crops since they were first planted 15 years ago and the growth of agricultural biotechnology in the United States and worldwide.
Some highlights from the 2011 ISAAA report include:
- Land dedicated to biotech crops reached a record 160 million hectares this year, an 8% increase from 2010.
- A total of 16.7 million farmers planted biotech crops in 2011, up 1.3 million from 2010.
- Of the 29 countries planting biotech crops in 2011, developing countries grew nearly 50% of global biotech crops in 2011 and are expected to exceed industrial countries’ hectarage for the first time in 2012.
- The top five countries in biotech developing -China, India, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa -grew 44% of global biotech crops in 2011, and have roughly 40% of world population.
- More than half the world’s population, 4 billion people, lives in countries planting biotech crops.
- The United States continued to be the lead producer of biotech crops with 69.0 million hectares planted in 2011, seeing particularly strong growth in maize and cotton.
- For the third consecutive year, the use of genetically modified seeds grew fasted in Brazil, with 4.9 million hectares planted in 2011.
- A total of 60 countries have granted regulatory approvals for biotech crops for import for food and feed use and for release into the environment since 1996.
- Biotech soybean continued to be the principal biotech crop in 2011, occupying 75.4 million hectares or 47% of global biotech area, followed by biotech maize at 32%, biotech at 15% and biotech canola at 5% of the global biotech crop area.
- In total, 7 million small farmers in China and another 7 million small farmers in India planted a combined total of 14.5 million hectares of biotech crops, contributing to significant increases in incomes and cutting in half the use of insecticide sprays.
- Africa planted 2.5 million hectares of biotech crops in 2011, and continues to make advancements with field trials focusing on priority staple crops including maize, cassava, banana and sweet potato.
- The overall increase in hectarage from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 160 million hectares in 2011 makes biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture.