As More Countries Adopt Crop Biotechnology, Farm Families and the Environment Benefit

Biotech crops in the last 22 years have brought enormous benefits to the environment, health of humans and animals, and contributions to the improvement of socio economic conditions of farmers and the general public, according to a new report issued today by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The ISAAA report shows the global biotech crop area increased in 2017 by 3 percent or 4.7 million hectares or 11.6 million acres; Global economic gains contributed by biotech crops in the last 21 years (1996-2016) have amounted to US $186.1 billion economic benefits to more than 16 to 17 million farmers, 95 percent of whom come from developing countries.

As more developing countries, now 19 in total including India, Pakistan, Brazil, Bolivia, Sudan, Mexico, Colombia, Vietnam, Honduras, and Bangladesh have increased their biotech crop area and continue to allow farmers to adopt biotechnology in food production, smallholder farmers see the direct improvements this offers, allowing them to provide better lives for themselves and their families.

Developing countries now account for 53 percent of the global biotech area planted.

The ISAAA report was released in conjunction with a similar study by PG Economics, Ltd. Both studies highlight and quantify the continued social, environmental and economic benefits of the global adoption of biotechnology in agriculture.

From 1996-2016, PG Economics reported biotech crops provided $186.1 billion in economic gains to some 17 million farmers, many of whom are female, smallholder farmers solely responsible for the livelihood of their families and communities.

“Global food insecurity is a huge problem in developing countries, with around 108 million people in food crisis-affected countries still at risk or experiencing food insecurity,” said Graham Brookes, Director of PG Economics and co-author of the socio-economic and environmental impact paper. “We have seen for more than 20 years now how crop biotechnology adoption in developing countries has contributed to higher yields, more secure production, and increased incomes greatly contributing to decreasing poverty, hunger and malnutrition in some regions of the globe most prone to these challenges.”

The PG Economics study also shows great strides have already been made to reduce the footprint of agriculture and in mitigating and adapting to climate change. The latest study highlights how biotech use in agriculture continues to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Highlights from the PG Economics report include:

  • In 2016, the GM crop-related carbon dioxide emission savings from reduced fuel use and additional soil carbon sequestration were equal to the removal of 16.75 million cars from the roads.
  • Advances in biotech crops allow farmers to use insecticides and herbicides more strategically, reducing the environmental impact associated with their use by 18.4 percent on GM crop areas since 1996.
  • In 2016, the direct global farm income benefit from GM crops was $18.2 billion, equal to an average increase in income of $102/hectare. Since 1996, farm incomes have increased by $186.1 billion.
  • Biotechnology remains a strong investment for farmers. In terms of farmer investment, for each dollar invested in biotech crop seeds, farmers gained an average $3.49.

Additional highlights from ISAAA’s 2017 report include:

  • In 2017, 67 countries used biotech crops.
    – This includes 24 countries in total that grew biotech crops, including 19 developing and five industrial countries;
    – and an additional 43 non-planting countries that formally regulate the importation and use of biotech crops for food, feed and processing
  • Top five countries (USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India) planted 91.3 percent of the global biotech crop area of 189.8 million hectares or 469 million acres.
  •  Biotech crops increased ~112-fold from 1996, the fastest adopted crop technology in the world; accumulated biotech area at 2.3 billion hectares or 5.7 billion acres.

 

The complementary studies – PG Economics’ “GM Crops: Global Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts 1996-2016” and ISAAA’s Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2017” – examine the continued widespread adoption of global crop biotechnology, and the significant positive socio-economic and environmental impacts of this adoption by farmers and communities around the globe.

The associated two papers in the peer review journal GM Crops and Food are available, with open access, at: www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21645698.2018.1464866 and www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21645698.2018.1476792

Modern Farming: How One Scientist Explains the Evolving Industry

We, as a country, are far removed from our ag roots. The American Farm Bureau says the average American is now at least three generations removed from the farm. So while we are all eating food, we don’t always know or understand how or where our food comes from.

That’s why educating consumers about our food is so important. In a new blog post from GMO Answers, GMO Answers Expert professor and farmer Tim Durham addresses some of the top myths and misconceptions about modern farming. Dr. Durham’s family operates a 30-acre vegetable farm on Long Island, New York — where he returns to work every summer. During the academic year, Dr. Durham teaches general biology, plant science, biotechnology, genetics, and agronomy at Ferrum College in Virginia.

He discusses topics such as

1. What are some of the biggest challenges farmers face today?

2. What methods and tools are available to manage and protect crops against these problems?

3. There is lots of information and misinformation in the media and online about pesticides and their safety. Can you explain a little bit about the need for pesticides and their relationship to GMO crops?

4. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about science, biotechnology or modern farming practices?

To learn more about these topics, please visit the GMO Answers Medium page and read all about them!

She Blinded Me With Science: What We’re Reading, May 2017

Each month, GMO Answers compiles a few stories we think particularly noteworthy. Science is everywhere, and that was especially true in the stories that caught our eye this past April. So go with the flow, lose control, feel the power, fight your resistance, be a catalyst, start a reaction, keep an ion the ball, and join us in finding out the latest in the world of science and GMOs in this month’s What We’re Reading post:

To learn more about the science of GMOs, agriculture, and plants, please visit the GMO Answers website.

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Convention Programming to Feature “One Health” Concept

Bio-based Technologies Address Human, Animal, Plant and Environmental Health

At its heart, the concept of One Health is rooted in the notion that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are all interconnected. At BIO’s 2017 International Convention (June 19-22 in San Diego), programming will feature the One Health concept through stories that show how science and technology are making tomorrow’s breakthroughs possible.

On Monday, June 19, BIO will host “One Health Day,” bringing together different parts of the BIO family with sessions focused on issues linking human, animal and environmental health. Scheduled speakers include:

Keynote:  One Health for the 21st Century

  • Dr. William Karesh, Executive Vice President for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance

“The very concept of ‘One Health’ is ancient,” says Dr. William Karesh, Executive Vice President for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance. “But our world has changed dramatically, and what’s really exciting is that with 21st Century innovation we have the opportunity to begin to end the pandemic era.”

Human, Animal and Plant Health Connectedness – Industry’s Role:

  • Dr. Carsten Brunn, Bayer’s Head of Pharmaceuticals, Americas Region
  • Frank Terhorst, Bayer’s Global Head of Seeds

“With emerging issues like a rapidly aging population and new and increasingly complex medical needs, our industry is at the forefront of advancements in science and technology that will help cure and prevent some of the most difficult-to-treat conditions, and improve lives,” said Dr. Carsten Brunn, Bayer’s Head of Pharmaceuticals, Americas Region. “With Bayer’s focus across the life science ecosystem, we are actively working to discover and develop innovations that impact the health of people, animals, and plants.”

“As the world’s population is projected to increase by more than three billion people in the next thirty years, we will require an adequate supply of healthy food as well as improved medical care,” stated Frank Terhorst, global head of seeds at Bayer CropScience. “Our research and development activities, fundamental to the well-being of society, are therefore linked by the concept of ‘One Health,’ with the goal of finding solutions to some of the major challenges of our time.”

Panel Discussion:  How to Move “One Health” Forward

  • Dr. Eddie Sullivan, CEO, SAB Biotherapeutics and Chairman, BIO Food & Ag Section Governing Board (moderator)
  • Dr. Laura Kahn, Research Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University and Co-Founder, One Health Initiative
  • Dr. Nikos Gurfield, Adjunct Professor of Pathology, UC San Diego and County Veterinarian, San Diego County Vector Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory
  • Dr. William Karesh, Executive Vice President for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance

“Science and technology hold the promise of securing a healthier world for humans, animals and the environment,” says Dr. Eddie Sullivan, CEO, SAB Biotherapeutics and Chairman, BIO Food & Ag Section Governing Board. “To make these breakthroughs a reality, we’ll need a collaborative approach for addressing existing political and economic obstacles and opportunities.”

In our speaker presentations and panel discussions, attendees will hear stories that illustrate the concept of “One Health” and how modern technologies are enabling us to solve global challenges through a collaborative One Health-focused approach. Panelists will also explore the barriers to success and what industry and others can do to solve the problems One Health is poised to address.

BIO 2017 International Convention (BIO 2017) is in San Diego June 19-22 and registration is now open! Check out the complete BIO 2017 program including Keynotes, Super Sessions, Educational Tracks and Fireside Chats with scientific experts, government leaders and leading biotech CEOs. And stay tuned for more updates as we approach BIO 2017!

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Our World’s Farmers Favor Biotech Crops

Millions of farmers around the world continue to choose genetically modified (GM) crop varieties because of their environmental and socio-economic benefits and the important role they play in addressing food security, according to a study released today.

The report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016, produced annually by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), says 18 million farmers in 26 countries grew biotech crops on 185.1 million hectares (457 million acres) in 2016.

“The United Nations warns that our food supply must double by 2050 to meet the world’s expected population growth to 9 billion people,” said BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood in a statement. “GM crops produce bigger yields on less land and help farmers and growers mitigate the environmental challenges of climate change.”

The report shows a 110-fold increase in adoption rate of GM globally in just 21 years of commercialization, proving biotechnology to be the fastest adopted crop technology in the world.  Adoption has grown from 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) in 1996 to 185.1 million hectares (457 million acres) in 2016.

“Biotechnology also provides societal benefits to the 18 million farmers who plant GMO crops – especially to the 90 percent who farm in developing countries,” said Greenwood. “The report shows how biotechnology has helped alleviate hunger by increasing incomes for small farmers and their families, bringing improved financial stability to more than 65 million people.”

Quantifying the environmental benefits of biotechnology, the ISAAA report explains how the adoption of biotech crops has reduced CO2 emissions equal to removing approximately 12 million cars from the road annually; conserved biodiversity by removing 19.4 million hectares of land from agriculture production in 2015; and decreased the environmental impact with a 19 percent reduction in herbicide and insecticide use.

Among the report’s additional highlights:

  • In 2016, 26 countries in total, including 19 developing and 7 industrial countries, grew biotech crops. Developing countries grew 54 percent of biotech crops, compared to 46 percent for industrial nations. 
  • In 2016, the leading countries growing biotech crops continued to be represented by the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India. Combined, these five countries planted 91 percent of the global biotech crop area. 
  • Eight countries in Asia and the Pacific, including China and India, grew 18.6 million hectare of biotech crops in 2016; 7.2 million farmers in India grow biotech cotton.
  • Four countries in Europe (Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovakia) grew more than 136,000 hectares of biotech maize in 2016, an increase of 17 percent from 2015, reflecting EU’s need for insect resistant maize.
  • Biotech crops have generated $167.8 billion in farm income gains since 1996.
  • Newly commercialized biotech crops and traits – such as non-bruising and non-browning apples and potatoes – directly benefit consumers.

 

*The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016 and accompanying materials are posted at www.isaaa.org.

6 Ways GMOs Make Agriculture More Environmentally Friendly

Last week, to celebrate National Ag Day, GMO Answers posted a column to its Medium.com blog explaining how GMOs help to make agriculture more environmentally friendly. Contrary to common myths, GMOs and the sustainable farming practices often used with them, significantly help to reduce our environmental footprint and preserve our natural resources. Today, through advances in crop biotechnology, GMOs like drought-tolerant corn can help farmers minimize losses associated with extreme weather events. Thanks to biotech advancements, GM apples have been approved for consumption, which are non-browning, eliminating the superficial issues that often cause people to throw them away. We also have GM potatoes that are less prone to browning, bruising and black spots, meaning fewer will end up in landfills.

While biotechnology is already helping to address major challenges across the world, like crops threatened by drought and diseases, here are six additional ways biotechnology is helping to make farming and agriculture even more sustainable:

  1. Growing more while using less
  2. Enhancing biodiversity
  3. Improving soil health
  4. Conserving our water
  5. Helping to mitigate nutrient pollution
  6. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions

Crop biotechnology and GMOs have significantly contributed to mitigating the environmental effects of agriculture while preserving our natural resources. They are one solution to combating climate change and addressing the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

To read the entire post, please visit the GMO Answers Medium.com page.

#AgDay 2017: Appreciating the Value of Biotech

Today is National Ag Day, a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America gather to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture! National Ag Day falls during National Ag Week, March 19-25, 2017!

Agriculture plays a large role in our everyday lives. It provides food, clothing, and shelter as well as jobs. In fact, in 2014, 17.3 million full- and part-time jobs were related to agriculture – that’s around 10% of total U.S. employment!

Unfortunately, few truly understand its contribution to our lives and the economy.  Even fewer understand the contribution of agriculture biotechnology. Did you know that the annual global hectarage of biotech crops was 179.7 million hectares in 2015 and continues to grow? They are the fastest adopted crop technology in modern history, especially among farmers in developing countries.

Genetic modification (GM) technology has had a significant positive impact on farm income. Since 1996, farm incomes have increased by $150.3 billion.

Farmers select GMOs to reduce yield loss or crop damage from weeds, diseases, and insects, as well as from extreme weather conditions, such as drought.

GM technology adoption has also reduced chemical pesticide use by 37% and significantly reduce tillage.

In 2014, biotech crops removed 22.4 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which is equal to removing 10 million cars from the road for one year.

To learn more about the value of agriculture and biotech crops, visit these resources: