Plant Science Post

The Great Biotech Success Story

March 4, 2015
Farmer Livelihood

Biotech crops are the fastest adopted crop technology of the modern age. After nearly 20 years on the market, farmers have planted more than four billion hectares of biotech crops as the technology continues to help create more productive and sustainable harvests on farms around the world. Keep reading to see why biotech adoption has been on the rise for 18 straight years.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) recently released its annual global biotech crop acreage report, which found that 18 million farmers planted 181.5 million hectares of biotech crops across 28 countries in 2014.

Bangladesh became the newest country growing biotech crops after approving insect-resistant biotech (Bt) brinjal plantings in 2014 and, for the third straight year, developing countries grew the majority of biotech crops – demonstrating the technology is scale-neutral and can bring economic and environmental benefits to large and small farms alike.

It is a staggering story as farmers continue to seek out biotech crops that can offer a variety of benefits. Some can withstand extreme weather, while others resist insects and disease. Some increase the nutritional content of food, and others enable larger yields by reducing pest pressures.

Biotech hectares have increased every year since products were first commercialized in 1996 but 2014 saw the biggest annual spike in growth. ISAAA believes the increase is driven by replanting, estimating that virtually 100 percent of farmers who grow biotech crops grow them again the next season.

Research group PG Economics looked at the impact biotech crops have had on food security, sustainability and climate change from 1996 to 2013. Here are some benefits it found:

  • Increased the value of crop production by US $133 billion
  • Saved approximately 500 million kilograms of active ingredients from pesticides
  • Reduced CO2 emissions by 28 billion kg – equivalent to taking 12.4 million cars off the road for one year – in 2013 alone
  • Helped to alleviate poverty for more than 16.5 million small farmers and their families

The advantages of plant biotechnology are clear to any farmer who has used the technology, and the statistics from ISAAA and PG Economics make the case even more compelling. As more countries adopt biotech crops each year, more farmers and consumers will share in these benefits.