For the first time since GM crops were commercialised in 1996, developing countries took over industrialised countries in terms of GM crop hectarage. To date GM or biotech crops are grown on 170 million hectares of land. This is 100-fold increase where in 1996, 1.7 million hectares were used to grow GM crops.
The main question remains: Would farmers continue to adopt a technology that is not profitable, safe, and that does not have a market?
“Biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history,” said Clive James, veteran author of the annual report and chair and founder of ISAAA.
“This growth is contrary to the prediction of critics, who prior to the commercialization of the technology in 1996 prematurely declared that biotech crops were only for industrial countries, and would never be accepted and adopted by developing countries,” James said further.
The benefits of GM crops are multiple: increase in yield, savings in fuel, time and machinery, reduction in pesticide use, higher quality of product and more growing cycles. And these are the factors that contribute to the increase in hectarage year after year.
Food security, sustainable development and climate change are the serious challenges and evidence points to GM crops as one of the solutions.
Africa missed the Green Revolution but is catching up with gene revolution now with Sudan joining South Africa, Burkina Faso and Egypt. Cuba was also a first timer last year, growing GM cotton.
China, India, Brazil and Argentina together grew 46 per cent of global GM crops. Brazil is becoming a leader in this with its science-based and very efficient regulatory system which could be a model for other economies to follow.
Golden Rice might finally see the light of the day in 2013/14. This crop is slated to benefit millions of people in Asia and Africa, especially young children.
For more info, please check: www.isaaa.org
By Mahaletchumy Arujanan