Global adoption of biotech crops continues to rise as economic and environment benefits are recognised

    17 February 2014

    16 February 2014 (Canberra) – Independent reports just published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the  International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) confirmed the positive benefits plant biotechnology has for farmers worldwide, and the potential assistance to farmers in mitigating and adapting to the risks of climate change conditions in 2050.

    The IFPRI report measured the impacts of agricultural innovation on farm productivity, prices, hunger, and trade flows to 2050 and identifies practices that could significantly benefit developing nations.

    Using a first-of-its-kind data model, IFPRI pinpoints the agricultural technologies and practices that can most significantly reduce food prices and food insecurity in developing nations. The study profiles 11 agricultural innovations including crop protection, drought tolerance, heat tolerance, no-till farming, and water harvesting.

    “These reports highlight the importance of innovations coming from the plant science sector in addressing the current and future challenges faced by farmers worldwide. They reaffirm that modern farming using the latest crop protection and biotechnology innovations will play a crucial role in food and fibre production in Australia and globally in the coming decades,” said Matthew Cossey, Chief Executive Officer of CropLife Australia.

    “These reports highlight how important it is that Australian farmers be able to use new, innovative and safe technologies to remain globally competitive, meet the requirements of increased food demand, and farm sustainably on limited arable land.”

    The ISAAA report indicates more than 18 million farmers in 27 countries planted biotech crops in 2013. Global biotech crop acreage has increased from 4.2 million acres in 1996 to over 432 million acres in 2013. During this 18 year period, more than a 100-fold increase of commercial biotech crop acreage has been reported.

    The report also highlights that biotech crops have reduced the need for 497 million kg of pesticides, cut CO2 emissions by 27 billion kg in 2012 alone (equivalent to removing 12 million cars from the road for one year), have conserved biodiversity by saving 304 million acres of land from being placed in agricultural production, and alleviated poverty for 16.5 million small farmers and farm families, totalling more than 65 million people.

    In Australia, 1.5 million acres of genetically modified (GM) cotton and canola were planted in 2013. Last year, planting of GM canola in Western Australia went up 38 percent from 2012. Last week, suppliers notified GM canola growers in Western Australia that unprecedented demand meant that orders for the latest high performance seed varieties had already been exceeded.

    “Australian farmers, like farmers all around the world, recognise the enormous economic and environmental benefits that come with the use of agricultural biotechnology innovations. On top of the global environmental benefits noted in the ISAAA report, the use of GM crops has reduced water use in cropping by up to 32 per cent,” concluded Mr Cossey.

    A full copy of the IFPRI report, Food Security in a World of Natural Resource Scarcity: The Role of Agricultural Technologies is available online at
    More information about the ISAAA report is available online at

    Contact: Jaelle Bajada (Manager – Public Affairs)  Ph: 02 6230 6399  Mob: 0410 491 261