Global adoption of biotech crops
Since 1996, the first year of commercialization for genetically modified or biotech crops, the global area used to grow these crops keeps growing with each passing year as more and more countries and farmers are embracing biotechnology so they can grow plants that yield more per acre and reduce production costs while being resistant to disease and insect pests. Crop biotechnology has achieved what no other agricultural technology has achieved so far, delivering crops that were unimaginable in the past. Today, biotechnology is the fastest adopted crop technology and most importantly holds even greater promise for the future.
Latest data shows that farmers around the world have widely adopted crops engineered to resist insects and/or herbicides. During the period of 1996 to 2014, biotech crops, which contribute to more sustainable crop production systems and provide resilient responses to the challenges of climate change, have been successfully grown in accumulated hectarage of 1.78 billion hectares (4.4 billion acres).
"In 2014, the global area of biotech crops continued to increase for the 19th year at a sustained growth rate of 3 to 4% or 6.3 million hectares (~16 million acres), reaching record 181.5 million hectares or 448 million acres. Biotech crops have set a precedent in that the biotech area has grown impressively every single year for the past 19 years, with a remarkable 100-fold increase since the commercialization began in 1996,"revealed the latest annual report of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), which docu- ments the latest information on the global status of commercially approved biotech crops. The 448 million acres planted worldwide in 2014 was up 15 million acres from the previous year.
The acreage of biotech crops grown in 1996 to 2014 equals, roughly 80 per cent more than the total land mass of China. Although the United States remains the leading grower of biotech crops in the world but developing countries are fast catching up. 20 out of a total of 28 countries (about 60 per cent of the world population lives in these countries) that are growing biotech crops are developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia including China, India and our own country Pakistan, which adopted biotechnology in 2010 by commercially launching Bt cotton. Another 31 countries, including those in Europe, import and consume biotech crops. As far as the GM crops, introduced so far, are concerned, more than 10 food and fiber biotech crops have been approved and commercialized around the world since 1996. These range from major commodities such as maize, soybean and cotton, to fruits and vegetables like papaya, eggplant and, most recently, potato.