Activists’ claims that the cultivation of GMO crops have harmed bumblebee colonies have been upended by a study just published in Britain. The study casts doubt on the suggestion that neonicotinoid pesticides, used in conjunction with GM crops, are a major factor in the decline of bumble bee colonies. The UK’s Food & Environment Research Agency studied bumblebee colonies placed near fields of canola crops that had been grown from seeds treated with the insecticides in question, and compared them with colonies near untreated crops. The result: “bumblebee colonies remained viable & productive in presence of neonicotinoid pesticides under field conditions.” Read the full study here.
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.
The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report on the global status of commercialized biotech crops in 2010. The ISAAA report discusses major developments impacting biotech crop adoption, including this year’s record amount of hectarage dedicated to biotech crops and landmark decisions by Pakistan, Myanmar and Sweden to approve the planting of the crops.
Take a look at the full ISAAA report and charts to learn 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 2010 ISAAA report include:
- Biotech crops occupy about 10% or 1.5 billion hectares (3.7 billion acres) of total global cropland- up significantly from 7% or 134 million hectares (331 million acres) in 2009.
- The number of countries planting biotech crops increased to 29, up from 25 in 2009, with for the first time two struggling economies Pakistan and Myanmar planting biotech cotton to improve food security, and the first Scandinavian adopter Sweden planting a high-quality biotech starch potato.
- The United States remained by far the largest grower of biotech crops, with 66.8 million hectares (165 million acres) planted in 2010, up 4 percent from 2009.
- Developing countries increased their share of global biotech crops to almost 48% in 2010, and are expected to exceed developed countries in the future.
- The use of genetically modified seeds grew the fastest in Brazil, with a 4 million hectare increase from 2009.
- Biotech soybean continued to be the dominant crop in 2010, occupying 73.3 million hectares or 50% of global biotech area, followed by biotech maize at 31%, biotech cotton at 14%, and biotech canola with 5% of the global biotech crop area.
- Since 1996, a total of 59 countries have granted regulatory approvals for biotech crops for import for food and feed use and for release into the environment.
- About 12 countries are expected to adopt biotech crops for the first time between 2011 and 2015, bringing the total number of countries adopting biotech crops to approximately 40 in 2015.
Forbes blog supports safety of GMOs
In a Forbes Science Business blog, Steven Salzberg debunks misconceptions about the safety of GMO foods. He points out that those who are “terrified” of GMO foods “don’t seem to realize that we’ve been modifying the genes in our foods for centuries, and it’s generally been a good thing.” Mr. Salzberg makes a comparison between the earliest corn cobs discovered by archaeologists and modern corn (pictured here) to demonstrate that GMO crops have been around for a long time, even though farmers were likely unaware of it. He concludes with the reassurance that, “you’re far more likely to be harmed by being hit on the head by a corn cob than by some kind of deviant GMO corn gene.” Read More.
No health problems reported for GMO Foods
In a Huffington Post article analyzing the safety of GMOs, freelance science and policy writer Paul Tullis illustrates the widespread growth of the crops in the US: “Eighty percent of the 86 million acres of corn planted in the United States today-as well as 92 percent of the soy, and a good deal of the squash tomatoes, potatoes, canola and a host of other crops-comes from genetically engineered, or ‘GE,’ seed.” Executive Vice President for Food and Agriculture of BIO Sharon Bomer Lauritsen says, “Foods derived from biotechnology have been eaten by billions of people without a single documented health problem.” Read More.
Steven Salzberg: email@example.com