For the first time since the introduction of biotech crops almost two decades ago, developing countries grew biotech crops on more land than in industrialized countries in 2012, according to a report released on February 20 by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).
Developing nations planted 52% of the global biotech crops in 2012, up from 50% a year earlier and higher than the 48% that industrial countries grew last year. Last year, the growth rate for biotech crops was more than three times as fast and five times as large in developing countries - 11% or 8.7 million hectares (21.5 million acres) in developing countries, versus 3% or 1.6 million hectares, (3.95 million acres) in industrial countries.
“This year’s ISAAA report adds increasing evidence that agricultural biotechnology is a key component in sustainable crop production,” said Dr. Cathleen Enright, executive director of the Council for Biotechnology Information. “When you look at the rising number of acres of biotech crops planted each year, it can’t be denied that biotech crops are delivering value to more and more growers around the world.”
Other highlights of the ISAAA report include:
- Last year marked an unprecedented 100-fold increase in total biotech crop hectarage to 170 million hectares, up from 1.7 million in 1996 - when biotech crops were first commercialized.
- In 2012, a record 17.3 million farmers around the world grew biotech crops. This was an increase of 600,000 from 2011. Over 90%, or over 15 million farmers, were small resource-poor farmers in developing countries.
- China, India, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa, which together represent approximately 40% of the global population, grew 78.2 million hectares (or 46%) of global biotech crops in 2012. The United States continued to be the lead country with 69.5 million hectares, with an average of 90% adoption across all crops.
- While 28 countries planted commercialized biotech crops in 2012, an additional 31 countries totaling 59 have granted regulatory approvals for biotech crops for import, food and feed use and for release into the environment since 1996.
For more information on this year’s report, visit www.isaaa.org.
People stocking up for Valentine’s Day tomorrow can enjoy the treats they love while still feeling confident that the ingredients are safe to eat and beneficial to the environment.
“Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance and not a day for unwarranted food fears,” said Dr. Cathleen Enright, executive director at CBI. “The safety of foods made with ingredients from genetically engineered plants has been well-documented in hundreds of scientific studies and food safety reviews. There has never been a food safety concern associated with genetically engineered food. Never!”
“What can be attributed to GE food production is a reduced carbon footprint, reduced use of pesticides, and greater adoption of sustainable farming practices,” she said. “Consumers can actually feel great about genetically engineered foods because they can help save the planet we all love.”
As a testament to the importance of a science-based policymaking, the United States Senate overwhelmingly rejected an amendment this week offered by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would have allowed states to require labeling on foods containing genetically modified (GM ) ingredients.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) pointed out the measure would have created obstacles to ag biotech innovations and compromised the integrity of the U.S. regulatory process, which continues to recognize there is no scientific justification for special labeling of GM foods.
“The Senate’s action confirms that the path to awareness about biotechnology is not through changes to the U.S. government’s food labeling policy, which requires labeling to provide consumers with information about health, safety or nutrition,” said Dr. Cathleen Enright, Vice President of Food & Agriculture, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
With strong bipartisan support, the Senate also voted to reauthorize the Farm Bill, including a measure that would support the construction of new biorefineries with the potential of opening emerging agricultural markets and creating new employment opportunities across the U.S.
Crop biotechnology has continued to provide important economic and production gains, improved incomes and reduced risk for farmers around the world, according to the seventh annual report on crop biotechnology impacts prepared by UK-based PG Economics. More than half (55 percent) of the 2010 farm income gains went to farmers in developing countries, 90 percent of whom are resource-poor smallholders, the report said.
“The advantages of advanced seed technology for farmers in developing countries come at a time when food availability is becoming more of an issue around the world,” said Dr. Cathleen Enright, executive director of the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI).
“The population continues to grow, but for many farmers, their ability to produce food remains stuck in the past,” she said. “In order to double food production by 2050 to meet demand, new seed technologies must be utilized. READ MORE »