Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops:2011

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Abstract or Summary

Brief Highlights: 

  • Due to significant benefits, strong growth continued in 2011 with a double-digit increase of 12 million hectares, at an annual growth rate of 8%, reaching 160 million hectares, up from 148 million hectares in 2010.
  • A 94-fold increase from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 160 million hectares in 2011, makes biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history.
  • The most compelling testimony to biotech crops is that, in the period 1996 to 2011, millions of farmers in 29 countries worldwide, made more than 100 million independent decisions to plant and replant an accumulated hectarage of 1.25 billion hectares – one principal reason underpins the trust and confidence of risk-averse farmers in the technology – biotech crops deliver sustainable and substantial, socioeconomic and environmental benefits.
  • Of the 29 countries planting biotech crops in 2011, 19 were developing and 10 were industrial countries. The top 10 countries each grew more than one million hectares and they provide a broad-based, worldwide foundation for diversified growth in the future. 
  • In 2011, a record 16.7 million farmers, up 1.3 million or 8% from 2010, grew biotech crops – notably over 90%, or 15 million, were small resource-poor farmers in developing countries; farmers are the masters of risk aversion and in 2011, a record 7 million small farmers in China and another 7 million in India, elected to plant 14.5 million hectares of Bt cotton. 
  • Developing countries grew ~50% of global biotech crops in 2011 and are expected to exceed industrial country hectarage in 2012. In 2011, growth rate for biotech crops was twice as fast, and twice as large, in developing countries, at 11% or 8.2 million hectares, versus 5% or 3.8 million hectares in industrial countries.  
  • Stacked traits are an important feature – 12 countries planted biotech crops with two or more traits in 2011, and encouragingly 9 of the 12 were developing countries – 42.2 million hectares, or more than a quarter, of the 160 million hectares were stacked in 2011, up from 32.3 million hectares or 22% of the 148 million hectares in 2010.
  • The five lead developing countries in biotech crops are India and China in Asia, Brazil and Argentina in Latin America, and South Africa on the continent of Africa, which together represent 40% of the global population, which could reach 10.1 billion by 2100.


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