Interesting ag biotech news from around the world this week includes the promotion of biotech crops by a farmer in Italy and improvements in Asian rice that could result in significant yield increases.
An Italian farmer fights for GM crops
Italian farmer Giorgio Fidenato is determined to promote the benefits of biotech crops, going so far as to plant GM corn on his farm, despite Italy’s moratorium on genetically modified seeds that was enacted in March. “Our biggest goal is to show consumers that it is safe to eat,” he says, in an Associated Press article.
The National Academies of Science will be presenting a report next week about the impact of genetically modified crops. The report release will be open to the public and will be streamed via live webcast at www.nas.edu. Please see below for more information. We think the report will share very interesting information and we will report on its findings after the release!’
The National Research Council is pleased to invite you to attend the public release of a new report on genetically engineered crops. The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States is the first comprehensive assessment of the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the GE-crop revolution on U.S. farms. It addresses how GE crops have affected U.S. farmers, both adopters and nonadopters of the technology, their incomes, agronomic practices, production decisions, environmental resources, and personal well-being. The report offers several new findings and recommendations that will be of interest to farmers, industry representatives, science organizations, policymakers, government representatives, and the public.
The public release and briefing of this report will be held on Tuesday, April 13, at 11:00 am in the Lecture Room of the National Academies of Sciences building, 2101 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC. Members of the public are welcome to attend. Please RSVP to Kamo Mutu at email@example.com. The briefing will also be streamed live via webcast. Please visit www.nas.edu to view the briefing.
The American Farm Bureau released an informal survey of young American farmers and ranchers (18-35 years old) that shares information about young farmers’ attitudes towards the future of farming. Despite challenges such as the economy, 80 percent of young farmers surveyed say they are more optimistic than they were five years ago, and 96 percent of the respondents say they expect to be life-long farmers or ranchers.
The survey also asked about biotech crop use, and more than half of the young farmers (57 percent) intend to plant biotech crops this year, signaling that young farmers are in favor of agricultural biotechnology. These farmers and ranchers are also concerned about their carbon footprint, and 68 percent of those surveyed say that “balancing environmental and economic concerns is important for their operations.”
Young farmers are also overwhelmingly online, with nearly 99 percent saying they have access to and use the internet. Furthermore, young farmers actively participate in social media- nearly 75 percent of young farmers are members of Facebook, and 10 percent are on Twitter. Twelve percent of these farmers and ranchers said they post YouTube videos.
Following the February 12thAgCast Event, BIO produced a video recapping the key take-away from the panel discussion about feeding a growing population– specifically, the need for biotech crop adoption. Check out the video featuring Dr. Nina Fedoroff and Mark Cantley discussing why we need to move forward with agricultural biotechnologynow.
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.