Biotech crop hectares witness unprecedented rise

Thursday, March-28-2013

Biotech crop
Biotech crop

Biotech crop hectares increased by an unprecedented 100-fold from 1.7 million hectares in 1996, to over 170 million hectares in 2012 making biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times – the reason – they deliver benefits.

It has been claimed in a report on ‘Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM crops: 2012’ by Clive James, Founder and Chair of International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). According to the March issue of Crop Biotech Update SEAsia ISAAA Center, in 2012 hectarage of biotech crops grew at an annual growth rate of 6 percent, up 10.3 million from 160 million hectares in 2011.

Millions of farmers in 30 countries world-wide, have made more than 100 million independent decisions to plant an accumulated hectarage of 1.5 billion hectares, equivalent to 50 percent more than the total land mass of the US or China; this reflects the fact that biotech crops deliver sustainable and substantial, socio-economic and environmental benefits, the report claimed.

The Year 2012 was the 17th year of successful commercialisation of biotech crops. Biotech crops were first commercialised in 1996. Hectarage of biotech crops increased every single year between 1996 to 2012 with 12 years of double digit growth rates, reflecting the confidence and trust of millions of risk-averse farmers around the world, in both developing and industrial countries, ISAAA report adds.

For the first time in 2012, developing countries planted more hectares than industrial countries. Notably, developing countries grew more, 52 percent, of global biotech crops in 2012 than industrial countries at 48 percent. In 2012, growth rate for biotech crops was at least three times as fast, and five times as large in developing countries, at 11 percent or 8.7 million hectares, versus 3 percent or 1.6 million hectares in industrial countries. Of the 28 countries which planted biotech crops in 2012, 20 were developing and 8 were industrial countries; two new countries, Sudan (Bt cotton) and Cuba (Bt maize) planted biotech crops for the first time in 2012. Germany and Sweden could not plant the biotech potato “Amflora” because it ceased to be marketed. Stacked traits are an important feature – 13 countries planted biotech crops with two or more traits in 2012, and notably, 10 of the 13 were developing countries – 43.7 million hectares, or more than a quarter, of the 170 million hectares were stacked in 2012.

In 2012, a record 17.3 million farmers, up 0.6 million from 2011, grew biotech crops – remarkably over 90 percent, or over 15 million, were small resource-poor farmers in developing countries. Farmers are the masters of risk-aversion and in 2012, a record 7.2 million small farmers in China and another 7.2 million in India, elected to plant almost 15 million hectares of Bt cotton, because of the significant benefits it offers. In 2012 over one-third of a million small farmers in the Philippines benefited from biotech maize.

Recounting the benefit of Biotech crops, this report said from 1996 to 2011, biotech crops contributed to Food Security, Sustainability and the Environment/Climate Change by: increasing crop production valued at US $98.2 billion; providing a better environment, by saving 473 million kg a.i. of pesticides; in 2011 alone reducing CO2 emissions by 23.1 billion kg, equivalent to taking 10.2 million cars off the road for one year; conserving biodiversity by saving 108.7 million hectares of land; and helped alleviate poverty for 15.0 million small farmers and their families. Biotech crops are essential but are not a panacea and adherence to good farming practices such as rotations and resistance management, are a must for biotech crops as they are for conventional crops, the report further said. Source Business Recorder.

Published:  Zarai Media Team

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