A report released at the BIO International Convention shows that biotechnology-improved crops have delivered important economic and environmental benefits over their sixteen years of widespread adoption. The report is titled “Global Impact of Biotech Crops: Economic and Environmental Effects 1996-2011.” It’s the eighth annual research conducted by United Kingdom-based agriculture research firm PG Economics. According to Graham Brookes – PG Economics Director and co-author of the report – biotech crops have enabled farmers around the world to increase their incomes and yields while using less pesticides and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Biotechnology Industry Organization Executive Vice President for Food and Agriculture Dr. Cathleen Enright notes the significance of the report’s findings regarding biotechnology’s contributions to the environment. Enright says the increased use of genetically-engineered crops has reduced the use of chemical insecticides. In addition – Enright says the shift to no-till cropping systems has reduced on-farm fuel use, enhanced soil quality and significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. In 2011 – this was equivalent to removing 23-billion kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – or removing 10.2-million cars from the road for a year.
According to the details of the report – the net economic benefit of genetically-engineered crops at the farm level in 2011 was 19.8-billion dollars. The global farm income gain for the 16 year period was 98.2-billion dollars. Of the total farm income benefit – 49-percent is due to the yield gains resulting from lower pest and weed pressure and improved genetics and the rest is a result of reductions in the cost of production. If crop biotechnology hadn’t been available to the 16.7-million farmers using the technology in 2011 – maintaining global production levels at the 2011 levels would have required additional plantings of 5.4-million hectares of soybeans, 6.6-million hectares of corn, 3.3-million hectares of cotton and point-two-million hectares of canola. That is equal to nine-percent of the arable land in the U.S. – 25-percent of the arable land in Brazil or 28-percent of the cereal area in the European Union.
More information – including the full report – is available at www dot pgeconomics dot co dot uk (www.pgeconomics.co.uk).