GM Crops – The Most Rapidly Adopted Technology in Agricultural History

    23 February 2011

    Statistics released overnight by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) show that farmers around the world continue to adopt genetically modified (GM) crops at an unprecedented rate.

    2010 was the fifteenth year that GM crops have been grown by farmers. In that time the use of GM crops has increased 87 fold, which makes GM crops the most rapidly adopted technology in agricultural history. In 2010 the area planted to GM crops increased by 14 million hectares to 148 million hectares – an area slightly larger than the entire Northern Territory and the equivalent of 10% of total global croplands.

    Australia grows two sorts of GM crops which have been both rapidly embraced and successful – GM cotton and GM canola. GM cotton was first commercially cultivated in 1996, while GM canola was only allowed by some state governments in 2008.

    GM crop production in Australia more than tripled from 200,000 hectares in 2009 to more than 650,000 hectares in 2010. This increase was due to larger cotton plantings after better rainfall and the increasing adoption of GM canola in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia. The half million hectare Australian increase in GM crop plantings was the largest proportional increase by any country during 2010.

    Globally the increases in GM crops area appear to show no signs of slowing down. In the last year, the GM crop area has increased by 10%, which is the second largest annual increase since the technology was introduced. There are now more than 15 million farmers growing GM crops in 29 countries on 148 million hectares of land.

    CropLife Australia Chief Executive Officer, Mr Matthew Cossey welcomed the results stating that this latest study is further proof to the public that biotechnology crops are an essential tool to farmers;
    “Our industry has been arguing for many years that GM crops are important and safe tools that farmers should have the option of using. When they are given this choice, farmers from all around the world are voting with their seeders.”

    “Australia’s international competitors in agriculture are not standing still here. For example; Brazil is rapidly adopting GM crops – planting an additional four million hectares of GM crops in 2010. It is important that Australian farmers have access to the same technology if they are to remain competitive with farmers in other parts of the world. Unfortunately, this is not the current situation for South Australian and Tasmanian growers, whose governments continue to ban GM crops.”

    “It is time for all levels of government to take action to allow Australian farmers to join the 15 million other farmers around the world in accessing the benefits of GM crops”.