Global plantings of biotech crops increased 10 per cent last year, continuing steady growth over the past decade that has been spurred by concerns about feeding a growing world population, according to an industry analysis.
While the United States remains the largest user of genetically modified seeds, Brazil posted the biggest growth, with plantings rising 19 per cent, according to the report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), which promotes biotech crop adoption. That marked a rise of 10 per cent over 2009.
About 10 per cent of total global cropland is being planted to biotech crops, according to ISAAA.
Brazilian farmers led the way, increasing their biotech crop plantings by four million hectares in 2010, more added farmland sown to biotech seeds than any other country last year, said ISAAA chairman Clive James.
“It is growing extremely fast,” James said of Brazil’s use of biotech crops, particularly soybeans. “The technology is here to stay.”
The United States remained by far the largest adopter of biotech seeds, with 165 million acres (66.8 million hectares) planted to GMO crops in 2010, up four per cent from 2009.
Globally, farmers last year planted 365 million acres (148 million hectares) of genetically modified (GMO) corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops.
ISAAA’s report said that while China planted only 3.5 million hectares to biotech crops last year, down five per cent from 2009, policy-makers there are encouraging development of biotech crops to address food security concerns for the fast-growing population. Among biotech crops being field tested are GMO wheat, soybeans, potato, cabbage, papaya, and melon.
Pakistan and Myanmar were among three countries planting biotech crops for the first time last year, with farmers in those nations planting insect-resistant Bt cotton. Sweden also reported planting biotech crops for the first time last year as farmers there seeded a biotech high-quality starch potato approved for industrial and feed use.
– clive james, isaaa