WASHINGTON, July 10, 2013- USDA recently released data summarizing the rapid adoption of herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant crops since their introduction in 1996.


Based on USDA survey data, herbicide-tolerant soybeans went from 17 percent of U.S. soybean acreage in 1997 to 68 percent in 2001 and 93 percent in 2013.

Plantings of herbicide-tolerant cotton expanded from about 10 percent of U.S. acreage in 1997 to 56 percent in 2001 and 82 percent in 2013.

The adoption of herbicide-tolerant corn accelerated to 85 percent of U.S. corn acreage in 2013.

Insect-resistant crops containing the gene from the soil bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) have been available for corn and cotton since 1996.

Plantings of Bt corn grew from about 8 percent of U.S. corn acreage in 1997 to 26 percent in 1999, then fell to 19 percent in 2000 and 2001, before climbing to 29 percent in 2003 and 76 percent in 2013.

USDA explained the increases in acreage share in recent years may be largely due to the commercial introduction of new Bt corn varieties resistant to the corn rootworm and the corn earworm, in addition to the European corn borer, which was previously the only pest targeted by Bt corn.

Plantings of Bt cotton also expanded rapidly, from 15 percent of U.S. cotton acreage in 1997 to 37 percent in 2001, peaked at 77 percent in 2012 and stood at 75 percent in 2013.

Adoption of Bt cotton “appears to have reached the low-growth phase, as adoption has already occurred on acreage where Bt protection is needed most,” the report explained.

The figures collected in the data include adoption of "stacked" varieties of cotton and corn, which have both herbicide-tolerant and Bt traits. Stacked cotton reached 67 percent of cotton plantings in 2013, while plantings of stacked corn made up 71 percent of corn acres in 2013.

Adoption of all GE cotton, including acreage with either or both herbicide-tolerant and Bt traits, reached 90 percent of cotton acreage in 2013, versus 93 percent for soybeans, which have only herbicide-tolerant varieties.

Adoption of all biotech corn accounted for 90 percent of corn acreage in 2013.

The tables for corn, cotton, and soybeans, provide data obtained by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in the June Agricultural Survey for 2000 through 2013.

The Economic Research Service (ERS) last updated NASS and International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) data for the report on July 9, 2013.


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