|13 April 2016|

The number of biotech crops has increased 100-fold in 20 years making it the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times, according to a new report.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report today detailing the adoption of biotech crops, “20th Anniversary of the Global Commercialization of Biotech Crops (1996-2015) and Biotech Crop Highlights in 2015,” showcasing the global increase in biotech hectarage from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 179.7 million hectares in 2015.

A staggering two billion hectares of arable land – a massive area more than twice the landmass of China or the United States – has been planted with biotech crops since 1996.

Farmers across 28 countries are estimated to have earned more than $150 billion from biotech crops in that time, helping some of the poorest people in the world.

“More farmers are planting biotech crops in developing countries precisely because biotech crops are a rigorously-tested option for improving crop yields,” said Clive James, founder and emeritus chair of ISAAA, who has authored the ISAAA report for the past two decades. “Despite claims from opponents that biotechnology only benefits farmers in industrialised countries, the continued adoption of the technology in developing countries disproves that.”

ISAAA Global Coordinator, Randy Hautea added: “China is just one example of biotechnology’s benefits for farmers in developing countries. Between 1997 and 2014, biotech cotton varieties brought an estimated $17.5 billion worth of benefits to Chinese cotton farmers, and they realized $1.3 billion in 2014 alone.”

“Farmers, who are traditionally risk-averse, recognise the value of biotech crops, which offer benefits to farmers and consumers alike, including drought tolerance, insect and disease resistance, herbicide tolerance, and increased nutrition and food quality.

“Moreover, biotech crops contribute to more sustainable crop production systems that address concerns regarding climate change and global food security.”