Global planting of biotech crops grew 8 percent last year, to a record high of 395 million total acres, according to the latest report from Clive James at the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA). Despite the many regulatory hurdles that governments around the world have erected to the approval and adoption of biotech crop varieties, when farmers have the opportunity to plant them, they do. Last year, more than 16 and a half million farmers grew biotech crops in 29 different countries.
What’s particularly noteworthy is that, while activists try to portray biotechnology as a rich industrial world tool, the bulk of recent growth in biotech crop adoption has come among relatively resource-poor farmers in less developed and newly industrialized countries. The United States has, since the first biotech crop introductions back in the early 1990s, grown the largest number of acreage planted with biotech varieties. But, while annual acreage increases in countries like the U.S. and Canada is starting to flatten a bit, the most robust growth has come from Brazil, India, and China. LDCs and NICs now grow about half of the world’s total biotech crop acreage. In China alone, roughly 7 million poor farmers grow biotech crops on an average of just one and a quarter acres.
On a related note, in this short video, former Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter discusses the role that advanced technologies have played in making U.S. agriculture a vibrant and productive contributor to the global economy.