Biotech crops contribute to reducing the environmental impact of productive agriculture, thereby increasing global food security without the need for increased land clearance. Insect resistant crops offer an alternative to chemical inputs on some crops and have allowed development of more targeted, flexible, effective and sustainable integrated pest management programmes. Biotech applications in the R&D pipeline (disease resistant, drought and stress tolerant crops) offer additional opportunities to increase global food security while further reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture.

The database contains 231 papers and supporting references that have been identified as having information on Agronomic Benefits of Biotechnology.

In 1950, the world population was 2.5 billion people. It is currently 7 billion, and projections are that it will reach 9 billion by 2050. It is estimated that the world needs at least 70% more food by 2050. Improvements in agricultural practices and technologies have achieved huge successes in helping to meet the food, feed and fibre needs of this growing population. However, by its very nature, agriculture is disruptive to the environment, and much work and research is now taking place to limit and decrease the “environmental footprint” it leaves.

Biotech crops help to reduce the environmental impact of productive agriculture in several ways. Biotech crops have helped reduce the use of pesticides for several economically important crops, contributing to reductions in fuel, water and packaging that are eliminated from the manufacturing, distribution and application processes.

Biotech crops assist in bringing higher yields per hectare, making farming more efficient and productive on limited land area. Habitat destruction is the biggest single threat to biodiversity. Higher yields mean farmers can produce increasing amounts of food without increasing arable land and this has a major impact on protecting wildlife habitats.

Herbicide tolerant crops are great enablers of zero-tillage agriculture, a substantial contributor to sustainable agriculture. Zero-tillage means sowing seed directly into the field, without first ploughing to remove weeds. By leaving the soil undisturbed, more moisture is retained, which is good for water conservation. Other indirect benefits of zero-tillage are improved conservation of beneficial soil insects and earth worms. By using fewer fuel powered agricultural machines, carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere are decreased and fossil fuels are conserved. Less tractor traffic also causes indirect benefits to soil quality, and hence a reduced contribution towards global warming.

References:

James C., Global status of Commercialized biotech/GM Crops: 2012, ISAAA Brief No. 44-2012

Papers relating to Environmental Benefits of Biotechnology:

  1. Modelling ex-ante the economic and environmental impacts of Genetically Modified Herbicide Tolerant maize cultivation in Europe , , (2014)
  2. Bt rice producing Cry1C protein does not have direct detrimental effects on the green lacewing Chrysoperla sinica Tjeder. , , , , (2014)
  3. Key global environmental impacts of genetically modified (GM) crop use 1996-2012. , (2014)
  4. Genetically modified corn on fall armyworm and earwig populations under field conditions , , , (2014)
  5. Tri-Trophic Studies Using Cry1Ac-Resistant Plutella xylostella Demonstrate No Adverse Effects of Cry1Ac on the Entomopathogenic Nematode, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora , , , , (2014)
  6. Impacts of Bt Rice Expressing Cry1C or Cry2A Protein on the Performance of Nontarget Leafhopper, Nephotettix cincticeps (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), Under Laboratory and Field Conditions , , , , , , , (2014)
  7. Effect of straw leachates from Cry1Ca-expressing transgenic rice on the growth of Chlorella pyrenoidosa , , , , , (2014)
  8. Using Resistant Prey Demonstrates That Bt Plants Producing Cry1Ac, Cry2Ab, and Cry1F Have No Negative Effects on Geocoris punctipes and Orius insidiosus , , , , , , , (2014)
  9. Target and Nontarget Effects of Novel “Triple-Stacked” Bt-Transgenic Cotton 1: Canopy Arthropod Communities , , , , , , , , (2014)
  10. Economic and Environmental Impacts of Bt Cotton: Evidence from Pakistan (2013)
  11. Nontarget organism effects tests on eCry3.1Ab and their application to the ecological risk assessment for cultivation of Event 5307 maize , (2014)
  12. Scientific Opinion on application EFSA-GMO-NL-2007-45 for the placing on the market of herbicide-tolerant, high-oleic acid, genetically modified soybean 305423 for food and feed uses, import and processing under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 from Pioneer (2013)
  13. Cross-generational feeding of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)-maize to zebrafish (Danio rerio) showed no adverse effects on the parental or offspring generations. , , , , , , (2013)
  14. Soil microbial properties in Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn cropping systems , (2013)
  15. Temporal dynamics of microbial communities in the rhizosphere of two genetically modified (GM) maize hybrids in tropical agrosystems , , , , , (2013)
  16. In-field rates of decomposition and microbial communities colonizing residues vary by depth of residue placement and plant part, but not by crop genotype for residues from two Cry1Ab Bt corn hybrids and their non-transgenic isolines. , , (2013)
  17. Survival rate, food consumption, and tunneling of the formosan subterranean termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) feeding on Bt and non-Bt maize , , , , (2012)
  18. Sensitivity of the cereal leaf beetle Oulema melanopus (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) to Bt maize-expressed Cry3Bb1 and Cry1Ab , , , (2012)
  19. Evaluation of the impact of the toxic protein CRY1Ab expressed by the genetically modified cultivar MON810 on honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) behavior , (2012)
  20. Dissipation of Insecticidal Cry1Ac Protein and Its Toxicity to Nontarget Aquatic Organisms , , , (2013)