million hectares, versus 3 percent or 1.6 million hectares in industrial
A record 17.3 million farmers grew biotech crops worldwide in 2012, up 0.6 million from a year earlier. Over 90 percent of these farmers, or more than 15 million, were small resource-poor farmers in developing countries. "Global food insecurity, exacerbated by high and unaffordable food prices, is a formidable challenge to which biotech crops can contribute," James said.
Sudan and Cuba Make History
Sudan and Cuba planted biotech crops for the first time last year. By growing biotech cotton, Sudan became the fourth country in Africa, after South Africa, Burkina Faso and Egypt, to commercialize a biotech crop.
Meanwhile, Cuban farmers planted 3,000 hectares of hybrid biotech maize as part of an initiative to bolster ecological sustainability and remain pesticide free.
Of the 28 countries that planted biotech crops, 20 were developing and eight were industrial countries, compared to 19 developing and 10 industrial countries in 2011. Approximately 60 percent of the world's population, or about 4 billion people, live in the 28 countries planting biotech crops.
Brazil Biotech Crops Grow 21 percent
China, India, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa, which together represent approximately 40 percent of the global population, grew 78.2 million hectares or 46 percent of global biotech crops in 2012.
For the fourth consecutive year, Brazil was the engine of growth globally in 2012, fortifying itself as a global leader in biotech crops. Brazil ranks second only to the U.S. in worldwide biotech crop hectarage, growing at a year-to-year record 6.3 million hectares, or a substantial 21 percent, to reach 36.6 million hectares in 2012 compared to 30.3 million in 2011.
A fast-track science-based approval system allows Brazil to adopt new biotech crops in a timely manner. For instance, the South American country was the first to approve the stacked soybean with insect resistance and herbicide tolerance for commercialization in 2013, James said.
India cultivated a record 10.8 million hectares of biotech cotton with an adoption rate of 93 percent, while 7.2 million small resource-poor farmers in China grew 4.0 million hectares of biotech cotton with an adoption rate of 80 percent.
U.S. Remains the World's Largest Grower
The U.S. continued to be the lead country with 69.5 million hectares, with an average of 90 percent adoption across all crops. The report notes that the devastating 2012 drought hit various crops. The most recent estimates indicate that due to the drought, average yields in 2012 were 21 percent less for maize and 12 percent less for soybeans compared with 2011 yields.
Canada, on the other hand, had a record 8.4 million hectares of canola at a record 97.5 percent adoption. The EU countries grew a record 129,071 hectares of Bt maize in 2012, but Germany and Sweden could not continue to plant the biotech potato Amflora because it ceased to be marketed; Poland discontinued planting biotech maize because of regulation inconsistencies in the interpretation of the law with the EU maintaining that all necessary approvals were already in place for planting, whereas Poland did not.
The lack of appropriate, science-based and cost-time-effective regulatory systems continues to be the major constraint to adoption of biotech crops. Responsible, rigorous but not onerous, regulation is needed for small and poor developing countries, James said.
"Biotech crops are important but are not a panacea," he added. "Adherence to good farming practices, such as rotations and resistance management, are a must for biotech crops as they are for conventional crops."
The near-term looks encouraging with new improved products such as the first biotech drought tolerant maize approved for planting in the USA in 2013 and also the first planting of the stacked soybean in Brazil and neighboring countries in South America in 2013. In the Philippines, Vitamin A enhanced Golden rice could be released in 2013/2014 subject to regulatory approval. Going forward, global growth of biotech crop hectares is likely to be more modest due to the already high rate of adoption in all the principal crops in mature markets in both developing and industrial countries, James noted.
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