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.