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The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report on the global status of commercialized biotech crops in 2009. In addition to sharing the state of agricultural biotechnology worldwide, the ISAAA report discusses major developments impacting biotech crop adoption, including China’s landmark decision to approve biotech rice and phytase maize and a future with drought tolerant crops and golden rice.
Please see the charts from the ISAAA report to learn about the 25 countries that have adopted biotech crops and the growth of agricultural biotechnology in the United States and worldwide.
Below are some highlights from the latest ISAAA report:
- Small and large farmers in 25 countries planted 134 million hectares (330 million acres) in 2009, an increase of 7 percent or 9 million hectares (22 million acres) over 2008.
- In 2009, the number of biotech famers worldwide increased by .07 million to 14.0 million, 90% of those were small and resource-poor farmers in developing countries.
- For the first time, biotech soybean occupied more than three-quarters of the 90 million hectares of soybean globally, biotech cotton almost half of the 33 million hectares of global cotton, biotech maize over one-quarter of the 158 million hectares of global maize and biotech canola more than one-fifth of the 31 million hectares of global canola.
- Developing countries increased their share of global biotech crops to almost 50% in 2009, and are expected to their increase biotech hectarage in the future.
- In 2009, Brazil narrowly displaced Argentina to become the second largest grower of biotech crops globally.
- While 25 countries planted commercialized biotech crops in 2009, an additional 32 countries, totaling 57, have granted regulatory approvals for biotech crops for import for food and feed use and release into the environment since 1996.
Karl Haro von Mogel from Biofortified recently posted a video interview with Dr. Robert McDonald, Vanguard Scientist at the Nature Conservancy from the 2009 BIO Conference.
When asked about his thoughts on the potential for biotechnology to contribute to sustainable agriculture Dr. McDonald said, “if there is scientific evidence that biotech crops are helpful we are going to support that.”
In particular, Karl asked Dr. McDonald about crops that may be engineered to have a trait known as nitrogen-use efficiency and how that may lead to a decrease in fertilizer use and runoff.
“Certainly nutrient runoff is one of the big issues we worry about, and in principal, any technology, whether it’s biotechnology or improved management practices that can reduce runoff from a site is a positive.”
Footage of the entire interview can be found on Karl’s site. Dr. Robert McDonald was also the author of a CBI Guest Blog.
Indian farmer Rajesh Kumar published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal today that expresses his discontent with the Indian government’s recent decision to deny the use of genetically modified (GM) brinjal (eggplant) by Indian farmers.
Mr. Kumar describes the potential gains from GM brinjal, including the need for fewer pesticide applications since the crop has a built-in resistance to pests. He writes that this quality would allow for the cultivation of better and safer foods. Additionally, Mr. Kumar writes that the adoption of GM brinjal would be economically beneficial for India by improving farm production and thus reducing the economic disparity between the rich and poor in India. The opportunity for higher yields will also help fight malnutrition in India, a concern that is rising with the increasing population.
Mr. Kumar recognizes that for India to compete and feed its growing population, the farmers must be allowed to participate in the “gene revolution” and utilize all available scientific tools.
You can read Rajesh Kumar’s entire op-ed here. Additionally, the Council for Biotechnology Information interviewed and videotaped Mr. Kumar at the annual World Food Prize Symposium in October 2009. You can watch a video that features an interview with him here.