Global momentum for plant biotechnology continues

Published online: Mar 02, 2011
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Adoption of plant biotechnology continues to grow worldwide as confirmed by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) announcement that 15.4 million farmers in 29 countries grew biotech crops on 148 million hectares in 2010. This is a 10 percent increase over 2009, and includes the adoption of biotech crops in three new countries - Pakistan, Myanmar and Sweden - as well as a return to planting biotech crops in Germany. "Feeding an ever-increasing world population is a challenge for countries and farmers around the world," said Denise Dewar, Executive Director for Plant Biotechnology at CropLife International. "The continued increase in biotech crop plantings worldwide is further evidence of growing preference for these crops, the benefits they provide farmers, and the role they can play in helping countries gain food security and achieve self-sufficiency." The past year also witnessed continued growth in the adoption of plant biotechnology by small-holder farmers - the primary growers of biotech crops. In 2010, 19 of the 29 countries growing biotech crops were located in the developing world, representing 90 percent of farmers growing biotech crops globally (14.4 million farmers). The high adoption rate of plant biotechnology by some of the world's neediest farmers reflects the significant benefits they receive by growing biotech-improved crops, such as increased income, improved crop quality and yield, and the ability to adopt sustainable farming practices. While North American farmers continue to be leading total planted area of biotech crops - at 75.7 million hectares in the United States, Canada, and Mexico - a significant number of crop approvals and milestones highlight the growing appreciation of the benefits of biotech crops in other regions around the world. "In the past year, we've witnessed significant engagement from governments and a willingness from many countries to work towards a regulatory framework that would allow their farmers to plant biotech crops in the near future," said Dewar. Some significant 2010-11 biotech crop developments from global regions include: Africa · In Kenya, biotech cotton is ready to go to the fields. There is sufficient data for both technical and regulatory purposes, and the first commercial planting is expected in 2012. · In the small West African country of Burkina Faso, plantings of biotech cotton increased by 65 percent, and farmers have reported three-fold yield increases. Asia-Pacific · Pakistan and Myanmar planted biotech cotton for the first time. · The Philippines adopted harmonised protocols for field testing biotech crops, and approved field trials and assessments of biotech brinjal and Golden Rice. Latin America · Argentina approved three new biotech corn traits for food, feed and commercial planting. · Adoption of biotechnology reached its highest rate in Brazil's agricultural history with three-quarters of Brazil's soybean area and more than half of the corn area sown with biotech seeds in the 2010/11 planting season. European Union · The European Commission approved the commercial cultivation of the Amflora potato, only the second biotech crop to be commercialised in the EU. It is now grown in Sweden and Germany. · Thirty-four biotech crop products have been approved in the European Union for import including six cotton, 21 maize, three oilseed rape, three soybean and one sugar beet variety. North America · Mexico planted biotech corn field trials for the first time. · The United States Department of Agriculture deregulated biotech alfalfa and partially deregulated biotech sugar beets. "In a world faced with rising food prices, undernourishment, mounting environmental pressures, and a clear need to preserve limited natural resources and biodiversity, it's essential to bring all our efforts to bear to continue to develop innovative technologies and farming solutions," continued Dewar. "Political and regulatory developments of the past year clearly indicate the growing global support for biotech crops in helping achieve food security." CropLife International and its members are dedicated to furthering the acceptance of plant science technologies in 2011 and beyond, and continuing partnerships that provide farmers with broad access to innovations, as well as the knowledge and skills to make these new tools valuable on the farm. More news from: CropLife International Website: Published: February 23, 2011