Global adop­tion of biotech crops

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL - Yasir Javed

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.

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