They’re Planting Biotech What?? Where??

February 26, 2010

Cotton farmers in Africa inspect their crop. In Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, biotech cotton increased from 8,500 hectares to 115,000 hectares.

This week’s ISAAA report is at first glance, not surprising: yes, the “how much?” question is always the lead, and as in other years, the report says more and more farmers around the world are planting biotech crops.*
But more interesting to me, are the answers to the “where?” and “what?” questions. As in, where are farmers planting biotech crops and what are they planting? Reviewing the list, I see countries that I haven’t seen before as well as new products that I haven’t heard of (blue roses anyone?). Here’s some tidbits that caught my eye. Also, I should note that Monsanto is a sponsor of ISAAA.

  • China (Cotton, tomato, poplar, papaya, sweet pepper) – Two products were recently issued biosafety certificates by the Chinese government: rice protected from the rice borer insect (Bt rice) and a maize product that is more easily digestable by pigs and chickens (phystase maize). Both products were developed in China through public sector financing and resources.
  • India (cotton) – 87% of India’s farmers, approximately 5.6 million of them, planted Bt cotton in 2009.
  • Costa Rica (cotton, soybean) – First reporting of biotech crops solely for the seed export market
  • Burkina Faso (cotton) – Biotech cotton increased from 8,500 hectares to 115,000 hectares. That’s a growth of 1,350 percent, equaling 29% of Burkina Faso’s total cotton acreage
  • Brazil (soybean, maize, cotton) – Brazil surpassed Argentina as the second largest grower of biotech crops globally (behind the U.S.) The acreage nearly quadrupled over 2008 from 5.6M hectares to 21.4M hectares.

Overall, the growth of biotech crops has been substantially higher in developing nations such as China. According to the report, almost half the global area of biotech crops (46%) is planted in developing countries, yet that number is planted by 13 of the 14 million farmers who grow biotech crops. The other 1 million farmers in industrialized nations account for the other half of the global area.

The ISAAA report also predicts the where, what and when for future growth:

  • Japan blue roses in commercialization stages now
  • Pakistan – insect-protected cotton in 2010
  • Malawi, Kenya, Uganda and Mali – potential adoption of biotech cotton and/or maize
  • Philippines golden rice before 2012
  • Bangladesh and India – golden rice before 2014

The report also notes the development of other small area biotech crops such as potatoes with pest and/or disease resistance, sugarcane with consumer and farmer-focused traits and disease-resistant bananas. Additionally, the report states that China may be the first country to approve biotech wheat as early as five years from now.

For an executive summary of the report, click here.

*The answer to how much is 134 million hectares (330 million acres) in 25 countries. That’s 7 percent more than in 2008, which was counted at 124 million hectares (308 million acres).

2 Responses to “They’re Planting Biotech What?? Where??”

  1. Malms Says:

    Gotta love the blog for the GMO kool-aid drinkers.

    Obama been good to you all, but he will be out of office soon enough, and his nominated cronies will be out too…

    • Dan Says:

      Who do you expect will take President Obama’s place and what kind of policies do you think that he/she will implement regarding GMOs?


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