Thursday, May 04, 2017

Biotech/GM Crops Surge to a New Peak of 185.1 Million Hectares in 2016

Global area rebounds from 2015 as farmers continue to adopt biotech crops 

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) has released the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016its annual report showcasing the 110-fold increase in the global adoption rate of biotech crops in 21 years of commercialization – growing from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 185.1 million hectares in 2016. The 2016 Report continues to demonstrate the long-standing benefits of biotech crops for farmers in developing and industrialized countries, as well as consumer benefits of recently approved and commercialized varieties. 


“Biotech crops have become a vital agricultural resource for farmers around the world because of the immense benefits for improved productivity and profitability, as well as conservation efforts,” said Dr. Paul S. Teng, ISAAA Board Chair. “With the commercial approvals and plantings of new varieties of biotech potatoes and apples, consumers will begin to enjoy direct benefits of biotechnology with produce that is not likely to spoil or be damaged, which in turn has the potential to substantially reduce food waste and consumer grocery costs.”

The adoption of biotech crops has reduced CO2 emissions equal to removing ~12 million cars from the road annually in recent years; conserved biodiversity by removing 19.4 million hectares of land from agriculture in 2015; and decreased the environmental impact with a 19% reduction in herbicide and insecticide use (Brookes and Barfoot, 2017, Forthcoming). Additionally, in developing countries, planting biotech crops has helped alleviate hunger by increasing the incomes for 18 million small farmers and their families, bringing improved financial stability to more than 65 million people. 

“Biotechnology is one of the tools necessary in helping farmers grow more food on less land. However, the promises of biotech crops can only be unlocked if farmers are able to buy and plant these crops, following a scientific approach to regulatory reviews and approvals.”

- Dr. Randy A. Hautea, ISAAA Global Coordinator

As more varieties of biotech crops are approved and commercialized for use by farmers, ISAAA expects to see adoption rates continue to climb and to benefit farmers in developing countries. For example, among African nations where regulatory processes have traditionally created barriers to biotech crop adoption rates, advances are being realized. In 2016, South Africa and Sudan increased the planting of biotech maize, soybean and cotton to 2.66 million hectares from 2.29 million hectares in 2015. Elsewhere on the continent, a new wave of acceptance is emerging as Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Swaziland and Uganda make advances in regulatory review and commercial approvals for a variety of biotech crops.

“Even with a long history of regulatory barriers, African farmers continue to adopt biotech crops because of the value they are realizing from the stability and productivity of biotech varieties,” said Hautea. “As more countries move forward with regulatory reviews for crops such as bananas, cowpeas and sorghum, we believe biotech crop plantings will continue to grow in Africa and elsewhere.”

Also in 2016, Brazil increased biotech area of maize, soybean, cotton and canola by a remarkable 11% – maintaining its ranking as the second largest producer of biotech crops after the United States. In Brazil, biotech soybeans account for 32.7 million hectares of the 91.4 million hectares grown worldwide.



For 2016, ISAAA also reports that there were improvements in the commercialization and plantings of biotech fruits and vegetables with direct consumer benefits. These included the commercial approvals of the Innate™ Russet Burbank Gen 2 potatoes that were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale in the United States and the Simplot Gen 1 White Russet™ brand potatoes that were approved by Health Canada for fresh market sale in Canada. These biotech potato varieties have lower levels of asparagine, which reduces the creation of acrylamide during high-heat cooking. Additionally, the first commercially saleable quantities of Arctic® Apples were harvested in 2016, stored over the winter and are projected to be sold in U.S. grocery stores in 2017.

Additional highlights from ISAAA’s 2016 report include:
  • Global area rebounded in 2016 with 185.1 million hectares of biotech crops versus 179. 7 million hectares 2015, when global area for all crops was down, and 181.5 million hectares in 2014. 
  • In 2016, 26 countries in total, including 19 developing and 7 industrial countries, grew biotech crops. Developing countries grew 54% of biotech crops, compared to 46% for industrial nations. 
  • Eight countries in Asia and the Pacific, including China and India, grew 18.6 million hectare of biotech crops in 2016.
  • 10 countries in Latin America, including Paraguay and Uruguay, grew a combined 80 million hectares of biotech crops in 2016. 
  • In 2016, the leading countries growing biotech crops continued to be represented by the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India. Combined, these five countries planted 91% of the global biotech crop area. 
  • Four countries in Europe -- Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic Slovakia -- grew more than 136,000 hectares of biotech maize in 2016, an increase of 17% from 2015, reflecting EU’s need for insect resistant maize. 
  • Biotech crops with stacked traits accounted for 41% of global area, second only to herbicide tolerance at 47%.
  • Biotech soybean varieties accounted for 50% of global biotech crop area. Based on global area for individual crops, 78% of soybean, 64% of cotton, 26% of maize and 24% of canola planted in the world were biotech varieties.
  • Countries with over 90% adoption of biotech soybean are U.S.A, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, and Uruguay; close to or over 90% adoption of biotech maize are USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, and Uruguay; over 90% of biotech cotton are USA, Argentina, India, China, Pakistan, South Africa, Mexico, Australia, and Myanmar; and with 90% or more of biotech canola are USA and Canada.
For more information and other details about the report, visit the Brief 52 page at the ISAAA website.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Trending News on Crop Biotech in 2016

Have you heard about the pink pineapple with high lycopene content developed by Del Monte? How about bananas with longer shelf-life? These are just some of the juicy news on crop biotech in 2016.
We gathered the top 10 most trending Crop Biotech Update news shared on Facebook to give you a glimpse of crop biotech happenings in 2016. Read on and make sure you don't miss which news made it to the number one spot.



The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) conducted a Joint Department Circular (JDC) Public Briefing & Symposium on Agricultural Modernization on September 15, 2016 at the Department of Agriculture (DA) Region 2 Experiment Station in Ilagan, Isabela in the Philippines. Read more.





Researchers from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at  University of Copenhagen have shown, for the first time, that the production of a plant hormone by a beneficial microbe is protecting a plant from a pathogenic microbe by inducing plant resistance. Read more.




Tomato fruit borer (Helicoverpa armigera) is one of the most damaging pests in tomato production, especially in India. Tomatoes do not have genes that confer resistance against the borer and conventional efforts to manage the pest were ineffective. Thus, a team of Indian scientists used Bt technology to develop fruit borer resistant tomatoes. Read more.




The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed the evaluation of genetically engineered pink flesh pineapple and concluded that it is as safe and nutritious as its conventional pineapple varieties. Read more.




Filipino farmer leaders participated in a two-day study visit to Bt brinjal (eggplant) farms in Bangladesh last February 23 to 26, 2016. Discussions on biotechnology regulations in Bangladesh, research and development of Bt brinjal, and farmer experiences on planting Bt brinjal were conducted with officials from the Bangladesh government and scientists from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI). The activities included field visits to Bt brinjal planting sites, interactions with Bt brinjal farmers as well as Bt brinjal tasting. The activities were held in two villages in Bogra, Bangladesh. Read more.




Cairo University students under the BSc Biotechnology program launched the Scientific Square Radio (SSR). It is the first scientific radio station in Egypt and is located at the Central Library, Faculty of Agriculture, Cairo University. Egypt Biotechnology Information Center (EBIC) highly supported the initiative. Read more.



4. SCIENTISTS RESTRICT CRY1AC EXPRESSION TO BITING SITES IN BIOTECH COTTON


Scientists from University of Ankara, Turkey and partners developed plant expression constructs with cry1Ac gene under the wound-inducible promoter AoPR1 to concentrate Bt gene expression in insect wounding parts of the plants. Read more. 


3. UGANDA'S FIRST FIELD OBSERVATION OF GM POTATO SHOWS EXTREME RESISTANCE TO LATE BLIGHT


The first field trial of genetically modified (GM) potatoes resistant to potato blight conducted in Uganda from October 2015 to January 2016 has been completed at the Kachwekano Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (KaZARDI) of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO). Read more.




U.S President Barack Obama signed the GM food labeling bill into law. The bill was drafted by Senators Pat Roberts and Debbie Stabenow, which aims to prevent states from issuing mandatory labeling laws and require food manufacturers to use one of three different labels for GM food products: (1) label with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) symbol indicating the presence of GMOs; (2) label using plain language; or (3) add a scanning code that links to ingredient details. Read more.



Scientists from Agricultural Research Organization in Israel have developed transgenic banana plants with longer shelf-life by reducing expression of two transcription factors. The results are published in Plant Physiology. Read more. 


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