Grains Research and Development

Date: 01.04.2003

Just the numbers pleasae: GM crops and profits grow globally

THE PRODUCTION of genetically modified (GM) crops grew by 12 per cent, or 6 million hectares, to 58.7 million hectares during 2002, according to the latest figures released by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The global market value of GM crops is estimated to be $4.25 billion, with the United States, Argentina, Canada and China the leading growers of GM crops. Other countries growing GM crops include South Africa, Australia, Spain, Mexico, Bulgaria and Indonesia. In 2002, India, Colombia and the Honduras grew GM crops for the first time.

The ISAAA report also states that almost 6 million farmers in 16 countries, including nine developing countries, planted GM crops in 2002, up from 5 million farmers in 13 countries in 2001.

Plantings of GM corn, canola and soybean increased in 2002. Corn plantings were up by 27 per cent (12.4 million hectares), canola up 11 per cent (2.9 million hectares) and soybean increased by 10 per cent (36.5 million hectares). Genetically modified cotton maintained its global area of 6.7 million hectares.

Because of the drought, Australia's cotton plantings in 2002 were halved to 0.1 million hectares.

In relation to future growth of GM crops, the report states, "there is cause for cautious optimism that the global area and the number of farmers planting GM crops will continue to grow in 2003". Reasons for this include:

  • China, India and Indonesia, the three major populous countries, are all now commercialising GM crops
  • the Philippines has approved Bt corn as its first commercial GM crop for planting in 2003
  • cotton with new insect-resistance traits has been approved for planting in Australia, and is expected to gain approval in the USA this year.

The ISAAA is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to alleviate hunger and poverty by increasing crop productivity and income generation, particularly for resource-poor farmers.

Resource: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications www.isaaa.org