CHICAGO — Farmers worldwide enjoyed nearly $20 billion in net economic benefits from the adoption ofgenetically modified crops in the year 2011 alone, according to a new report.
“The economic benefits farmers realize are clear and amounted to an average of over $130/hectare in 2011,” said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics, and co-author of the report. “The majority of these benefits continue to increasingly go to farmers in developing countries. The environment is also benefiting as farmers increasingly adopt conservation tillage practices, build their weed management practices around more benign herbicides and replace insecticide use with insect resistant GM crops. The reduction in pesticide spraying and the switch to no till cropping systems is continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.”
Insect-resistant traits have been especially important in the developing world, Brookes told CBI in an interview, while herbicide tolerance has provided the largest benefit in North and South America.
“Insect resistance has delivered increased yield from increased control of pests in cotton,” he said, which has been very beneficial in countries such as India where pest control has traditionally exposed farmers to pesticides.
“IR technology has solved a lot of the problem,” he said. “We’ve put insect resistance in the seed, and this has delivered health and safety benefits to farmers.” Farmers in India and China have enjoyed $25 billion in net economic benefits -a staggering amount considering India adopted Bt cotton only in 2002. Cotton yield in India has shot up 40 percent since biotech cotton was introduced, making India a major exporter of cotton, he said.
In North and South America, herbicide tolerance has had economic benefits but also “non-pecuniary benefits” in making it easier for farmers to manage their operations and has encouraged no-till farming, which has had environmental benefits such as more carbon sequestration and less soil erosion, Brookes said.
The report can be viewed here: http://www.pgeconomics.co.uk/