More growers around the globe adopt biotech crops

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 -More farmers around the world adopted genetically engineered (GE) crops, with some of the highest adoption rates in developing countries, according to a report released today by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The ISAAA report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2011, says a record 16.7 million farmers in 29 countries are growing biotech crops on 395 million acres. According to the report, “such adoption represents a 94-fold increase in hectares planted since 1996, making biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history.”

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Ninety percent (more than 15 million) of the growers utilizing biotech varieties are resource-poor farmers in developing countries,” says Dr. Cathleen Enright, Executive Vice President, Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “The growth rate for biotech crops in developing countries at 11 percent (on more than 170 million acres) during 2011 was twice as fast and twice as large as that in industrial countries at 5 percent (on more than 9 million acres). 

“This year's ISAAA report further confirms what we have known all along:  that agricultural biotechnology is a key component in sustainable crop production,” explains Enright. “Biotechnology provides solutions for today's farmers in the form of plants that yield more per acre, resist diseases and insect pests, and reduce farmers' production costs, pesticide applications and on-farm fuel use.”

In a statement released this am, Enright also made the following points:

“When you look at the rising number of acres of biotech crops planted each year (395 million in 2011 compared with 366 million in 2010), and the increasing number of farmers who have chosen this technology (16.7 million in 2011 compared with 15 million in 2010), it's obvious that biotech crops are delivering value to more and more growers around the world.
“The increase in biotech adoption not only benefits farmers, but also provides consumers with a safe, affordable food supply with a reduced environmental impact.

 “The productivity gains from biotechnology are enabling us to better feed a global population at a time when food insecurity is becoming a global concern.

“In the United States more than 170 million acres of biotech crops were planted in 2011, and the United States remains the top country in terms of biotech acreage.  The primary biotech crops grown in the United States are corn, cotton and soybeans, but also grown are sugar beets, alfalfa, canola, papaya and squash.

“Over the past two decades, we have seen how biotechnology can improve crop production through insect resistance and herbicide tolerant traits.But biotechnology can also help crops thrive in drought-prone areas, can improve the nutrition content of foods and can grow alternative energy sources.

“History has taught us that embracing innovation and modern science can help us solve the world's most pressing problems.People who really want to combat hunger, to keep food costs affordable, to protect the environment and to mitigate climate change are adopting agricultural biotechnology and embracing the solutions that it provides.”

* The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2011 and accompanying materials are posted at


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