On 15th Anniversary Biotech Crops Have Been Planted on a Billion Hectares Worldwide

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DNA rainbow

Every year, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) issues a report on the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops. According to the press release for the 2010 report: 

In just 15 years after  commercialization, accumulated biotech crops exceeded 1 billion hectares in 2010, a milestone that signifies biotech crops are here to stay,  according to Clive James author of the annual report released today by ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications). 

The 1 billionth hectare was planted in 2010 by one of the 15.4 million farmers in 29 countries who now benefit from the technology. For comparison, 1 billion hectares is roughly equivalent to the vast land area of China, or of the United States. With an unprecedented 87-fold increase between 1996 and 2010, biotech crops are the fastest-adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture, according to James, chairman and founder of ISAAA. 

"Growth remains strong, with biotech hectarage increasing 14 million hectares—or 10 percent – between 2009 and 2010," said James. "That's the second highest annual hectare growth ever – bringing 2010 global plantings to 148 million hectares."

For the first time, in 2010, the ten largest biotech crop growing countries all had more than 1 million hectares in production, providing a broad and stable base for future growth. In hectarage rank order, they include: USA (66.8 million), Brazil (25.4 million), Argentina (22.9 million), India (9.4 million), Canada (8.8 million), China (3.5 million), Paraguay (2.6 million), Pakistan (2.4 million), South Africa (2.2 million) and Uruguay (1.1 million). …

The five principal developing countries growing biotech crops – China, India, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa – planted 63 million hectares of biotech crops in 2010, equivalent to 43 percent of the global total. All told, 19 of the 29 countries that have adopted biotech crops are developing nations, which grew at a rate of 17 percent or 10.2 million hectares over 2009 compared to only 5 percent growth or 3.8 million hectares in industrialized countries. …

Of the 15.4 million farmers using the technology in 2010, 14.4 million were small-scale, resource-poor farmers in developing countries; these farmers are some of the poorest people in the world and biotech crops are contributing to the alleviation of their poverty, according to James. China and India now have the most small-scale farmers using biotech crops, with 6.5 million Chinese farmers and 6.3 million Indian farmers planting biotech crop seed. Remarkably, over the last 15 years, farmers worldwide have made 100 million independent decisions to plant biotech crops.

Despite continuing misinformation campaigns by anti-biotech activists, it is still the case that no independent scientific body has ever found that biotech crops have caused so much as a cough, sneeze or sniffle in people who consume foods made using ingredients from them. For example, the hypercautious World Health Organization declares:

GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved. 

Go here for the executive summary of the ISAAA report. 

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  1. Of course, this probably will not convince the usual suspects…

  2. grow hemp for the war effort!

  3. there is a rumor that Ronald Bailey is a human-radish hybrid.

    1. That’s strange. Judging from my literature review, human-cucumber hybrids should be more common.

  4. 3 countries represent 90+% of the issue. US, Brazil, Argentina. I assume (based on the summary) maize and soy are the main drivers (with india cotton coming in as a distant 3rd)

    I like the fact that china seems to have a more diverse set of products. They’re the only ones to have sweet pepper & tomatoes…

    Notable is no one from EU is in the top 15 except spain…(16)

    “”Of the 29 biotech crop countries in 2010, 19 were developing countries compared with only 10 industrial countries””

    That I think says something good. At least it seems to suggest cost-benefit is well demonstrated enough for poor farmers to weigh the merits and make the call to use technology to help themselves. But again, it’s not a huge sign as the top three countries still are the main game in town.

    I must say the format of the executive summary violates every formatting rule I ever learned writing hundreds of executive summaries…. its got bold type up the ass in every direction, apparently random bullet pointing, and its fucking 18 pages long? If you can summarize cancer studies in 2-3 pages, you can summarize the year in biotech dudes with far less horn honking. Like I said, most of the important facts are apparent in the first few paragraphs… the rest is overblowing the minor details.

    1. My brother is into home gardening in a big way, and he says that as far as tomato varieties go, Russia kicks ass. Who knew?

  5. oh, p.s…..

    DISCLOSURES!!!!!!

    1. For the record, I do not hold Monsanto stock…

      1. NO YOU FOOL – RON BAILEY DISCLOSURES… WE DEMAND TRANSPARENCY

  6. GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.

    I’m growing leaves!!

    http://www.stephenkingshop.com…..wstill.jpg

  7. I still do not think it gives Monsanto the right to sue small farmers when their crop is cross pollinated with Monsanto’s GM strain.

    1. Marc: I suspect that you’re referring to the Percy Schmeiser case. It’s a bit different than you apparently believe.

      1. The trouble with most folks isn’t so much their ignorance. It’s know’n so many things that ain’t so.

  8. There is nothing wrong with biotech crops

  9. Where’s Organic Girl? I sure could use a dose of her musings.

  10. The math is whacky (or at least missleading): The 1 billion hectares sounds like it’s comulative hectares planted – ever – of biotech crops. The percentages in the report (14m = 10% growth, 63m hectares in china = 43% of the total) point to 150m hectares planted in 2010. Comparing comulative hectares planted to a set land area (the US or China) is pretty missleading.

    1. Total land area for agriculture was 4.95 billion hectares in 2000. Assuming this is relatively stable, biotech-agro accounts for about 3% of total agro land usage… still a respectable amount.

    2. I was going to point that out as well.

  11. You quote “no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population” I guess you’ve never read any of Jeffrey Smith’s four books on the subject. How about the experiment in England in which seven volunteers ate GM soy products. In three of the subjects their intestinal bacteria continued producing pesticides long after they stopped eating the GM foods. Monsanto would say that can’t happen, but it does.

    Also, there has never been a commercial GM crop with inreased yield, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance or enhanced nutrition. Herbicide tolerant GM crops have led to increased pesticide use.

    So, health risks from products that have failed to fulfill their promises? Where’s the benefit?

    1. Also, there has never been a commercial GM crop with inreased yield, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance or enhanced nutrition.

      Wow, you’re an idiot:
      1. Insect and disease resistance enhances crop yield
      2. Drought tollerant
      3. Salt resistant

  12. “”How about the experiment in England in which seven volunteers ate GM soy products.””

    Please read and stop with the full retard

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G…..ontroversy

    … the one ‘significant’ study demonstrating possible adverse effect?…

    “”The French High Council of Biotechnologies Scientific Committee reviewed the 2009 Vend?mois et al study and concluded that it “..presents no admissible scientific element likely to ascribe any haematological, hepatic or renal toxicity to the three re-analysed GMOs.”[108][109] An evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority of the 2009 and 2007 studies noted that most of the results were within natural variation and they did not consider any of the effects reported biologically relevant.[110][111] A review by Food Standards Australia New Zealand of the 2009 Vend?mois et al study concluded that the results were due to chance alone.[112]“”

    And these are freaking *Europeans* pointing out the shit is safe. What else do you want? … No, but just *in case*, lets let the developing world starve, right? Because there’s a infintesimal risk – it should be banned from worldwide use… the typical ‘green’ logic…

  13. Gilmore said “lets let the developing world starve, right”. But if there’s no increased yield, and you need more pesticides, how does that prevent starvation? I somehow missed your logical connction between GM foods wildly failing to fulfill their promise, and people in developing counties starving.

    1. You’re the one claiming that GM “wildly fails to fulfill its promise” (sans facts); I’m pointing out that many developing nations adopt them because *they do*. And there’s the data to prove it.

      As to needing more pesticides… the issue is, will they produce more cost effective crop growth? Answer = yes. Issues regarding land effects, pesticide demands, etc? Worth talking about… but talk to farmers. Which most anti-GM people pointedly do not.

  14. In three of the subjects their intestinal bacteria continued producing pesticides long after they stopped eating the GM foods.

    Instead of concluding tha GM soy caused the subject’s intestinal bacteria to produce pesticides, I might try checking what happened when subject ate non-GM soy. I don’t really know about intestinal bacteria but is it possible that some or all foods cause some subjects to produce pesticides, or chemicals that look like pesticides, at some time or another?

    From the limited information given, it seems to me this study had an extremely small sample group and no control group at all. IIANM, that doesn’t qualify as a study at all.

    I’m also curious about anything you might have to substantiate this assertion:

    there has never been a commercial GM crop with inreased yield, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance or enhanced nutrition.

    Or, for that matter, this one:

    Herbicide tolerant GM crops have led to increased pesticide use.

    I remain unconvinced.

  15. Horay for biotech!

  16. The most widely cultivated biotech crop, Roundup Ready soybeans, actually yield 5 to 10 percent less than conventonal varieties, due to adverse effects of Roundup on plant performance and unintended consequences of genetic modification. And biotech seeds typically cost two to four times as much as conventional varieties. Is this how Monsanto is going to help developing countries prevent starvation?

    1. If what you’re saying is true, than farmers simply won’t buy Monsanto Roundup Ready soybean seads… hardly seems like that big a deal.

      Other GM crops farmers will buy because they offer advantages.

    2. Really, then I can’t imagine why farmers would continue to buy it. Problem solved.

      Or why Percy Schmeiser would go to the trouble of stealing them. 🙂

      1. Percy Schmeiser was Conola.

        1. OK.

          I’m just having a hard time taking this Alan seriously, so I’m resorting to lame humor.

  17. I like the use of the word “biotech” crops instead of genetically modified. Certainly misleading. The jury is still conclusively out on their long term effects, so while feeding the masses and the world’s poor is important, those of us who can afford to choose non GMO foods until the evidence is conclusive will continue to do so.

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