Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2006 (ISAAA Briefs No 35)

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Abstract or Summary

In 2006, the first year of the second decade of commercialization of biotech crops 2006-2015, the global area of biotech crops continued to climb for the tenth consecutive year at a sustained double-digit growth rate of 13%, or 12 million hectares (30 million acres), reaching 102 million hectares (252 million acres). This is a historical landmark in that it is the first time for more than 100 million hectares of biotech crops to be grown in any one year. In order to appropriately account for the use of two or three “stacked traits”, that confer multiple benefits in a single biotech variety, the 102 million hectares expressed as “trait hectares” is 117.7 million, which is 15% higher than the estimate of 102 million hectares.

Biotech crops achieved several milestones in 2006: annual hectarage of biotech crops exceeded 100 million hectares (250 million acres); for the first time, the number of farmers growing biotech crops (10.3 million) exceeded 10 million; the accumulated hectarage from 1996 to 2006 exceeded half a billion hectares at 577 million hectares (1.4 billion acres), with an unprecedented 60-fold increase between 1996 and 2006, making it the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history.

It is notable that the year-to-year increase of 12 million hectares in 2006 is the second highest in the last 5 years in absolute area, despite the fact that the adoption rates in the US, the principal grower of biotech crops, are already over 80% for soybean and cotton. It is also noteworthy that in 2006, India, the largest cotton growing country in the world, registered the highest proportional increase with an impressive gain that almost tripled its Bt cotton area to 3.8 million hectares.

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