The increased productivity of GM crops has meant an additional 357.7 million tonnes of corn, 180.3 million tonnes of soybeans, 25.2 million tonnes of cotton and 10.6 million tonnes of canola have been produced around the world between 1996 and 2015.
Australian farmers with access to crop biotechnology over the last 20 years have financially benefited too – they have gained $1.4 billion of income benefits.
Since 1996, GM crops have conserved biodiversity by saving more than 430 million acres of land from being placed in agricultural production.
Australiaʼs cotton crop is a GM variety. Cultivation of GM insect resistant cotton has reduced the number of insecticide sprays by up to 85 per cent compared with conventional cotton.
Herbicide tolerant GM crops have increased the adoption of minimum tillage agricultural practices, thereby reducing soil erosion, water runoff and greenhouse gas emissions.
In Australia, GM cotton crops have provided environmental benefits through reduced insecticide application and changes in the types of insecticides and herbicides used. First grown in 1996, now almost 100 per cent of Australiaʼs cotton crop is a GM variety. Cultivation of GM insect resistant cotton has reduced the number of insecticide sprays by up to 85 per cent compared with conventional cotton. This, in conjunction with industry stewardship practices, has greatly helped to reduce chemical runoff into rivers.
Future GM crops currently under development have a greater tolerance of salinity, drought, and acid soils, which will help farmers produce the food we need in a changing climate. Learn more about Future Innovations in Plant Science.