There is a growing understanding of how biotech crops can play a crucial role in improving food security and cutting harmful emissions, a new report suggests.
As confidence increases in their value and safety, more countries are investing in them. Today’s annual report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) – which pinpoints key trends relating to biotech crops – highlights that there has been a 110-fold increase in the use of biotech crops worldwide over the past 21 years.
The Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016 report points to the increasing benefits offered to farmers and the positive environmental impacts.
ISAAA Chair of the Board, Paul Teng said:“Biotech crops have become a vital agricultural resource for farmers around the world because of the immense benefits for improved productivity and profitability, as well as conservation efforts. With the commercial approvals and plantings of new varieties of biotech potatoes and apples, consumers will begin to enjoy direct benefits of biotechnology with produce that is not likely to spoil or be damaged, which in turn has the potential to substantially reduce food waste and consumer grocery costs.”
The report also states that biotech crops are playing an important role in reducing hunger – boosting the incomes of 18 million farmers to provide more than 65 million people with better financial security. It also attributes a significant reduction in CO2 emissions through the use of biotech crops, equivalent to taking around 12 million cars off the road annually.
“Biotechnology is one of the tools necessary in helping farmers grow more food on less land. However, the promises of biotech crops can only be unlocked if farmers are able to buy and plant these crops, following a scientific approach to regulatory reviews and approvals,” said ISAAA Global Coordinator Randy Hautea.
ISAAA is confident this is the direction of travel, and cites the ever increasing number of African countries – a continent traditionally slow in implementing regulations favourable to biotech crops – including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Swaziland where governments as working to harness the potential they offer.
Even with a long history of regulatory barriers, African farmers continue to adopt biotech crops because of the value they are realizing from the stability and productivity of biotech varieties. As more countries move forward with regulatory reviews for crops such as bananas, cowpeas and sorghum, we believe biotech crop plantings will continue to grow in Africa and elsewhere,” added Hautea.