Global area of biotech crops increased one hundred fold

    21 February 2013

    The global area of biotech crops has increased one hundred fold since they were first commercialised in 1996, marking a significant milestone for modern agriculture. According to the latest annual report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri‑biotech Applications (ISAAA) revealed yesterday, global adoption of GM crops increased by 6% last year, to reach 170.3 million hectares.

    ” The release of new data on the global adoption of GM crops shows that GM technology brings positive outcomes for more than 17 million farmers worldwide by increasing productivity, improving farmers’ income and securing food supply in a sustainable way”, commented Matthew Cossey, CEO of CropLife Australia.

    Australia now has the 13th largest area of biotech crops in the world with a record 700,000 hectares planted. Although last year was a record year for biotech crops in Australia, this number pales in insignificance when compared to other large agricultural exporting nations such as Brazil, Argentina and the USA.

    Among the emerging countries leading the way on GM crops, Brazil has seen an increase of 21% compared to 2011 with a total of 36.6 million hectares. Argentina follows with 23.9 million hectares. New countries are now cultivating GM crops with Sudan and Cuba having planted GM crops for the first time in 2012. African countries with commercial planting of GM crops include South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Sudan.

    “Australian canola farmers compete on global markets with countries like Canada, where a record of 8.4 million hectares of biotech canola was grown last year. Canadian farmers are reaping the benefits of a technology that is not available to Australian farmers in a number of states because of unnecessary and inhibiting regulation.

    “Governments in the north and south Americas have decided to accelerate adoption of biotechnology, recognising the massive benefit it affords their agricultural industries. Without improved predictability through the removal of state moratoria, the Australian food industry, commodity traders and farmers will face serious challenges in the future”, concluded Mr Cossey.

    The report also shows that biotech crops have made significant contributions to improving agriculture’s environmental sustainability. For example, biotech crops were directly responsible for reducing CO2 emissions by 23 million kgs in 2011, equivalent to removing 10.2 million cars from the road that year.

    To access the executive summary of the report and for more information, visit

    The report is funded by two European philanthropic organisations: the Bussolera-Branca Foundation from Italy, which supports the open-sharing of knowledge on biotech crops to aid decision-making by global society; and a philanthropic unit within Ibercaja, one of the largest Spanish banks headquartered in the maize growing region of Spain.

    The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) is a not-for-profit organization with an international network of centers designed to contribute to the alleviation of hunger and poverty by sharing knowledge and crop biotechnology applications. Clive James, chairman and founder of ISAAA, has lived and/or worked for the past 30 years in the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa, devoting his efforts to agricultural research and development issues with a focus on crop biotechnology and global food security.