In February, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report on the global status of commercialized biotech crops. ISAAA is a not-for-profit organization with an international network of centers designed to contribute to the alleviation of hunger and poverty by sharing knowledge and crop biotechnology applications.
This year’s report marks the 18th year since the commercialization of biotech crops. The report notes a tremendous adoption of biotechnology products, especially by developing countries. The high adoption rate of these crops makes biotechnology the fastest-adopted crop technology in recent history.
Twenty-seven countries grew biotech crops last year, and of the 18 million farmers that benefitted from the technology, 90 percent were small, resource-poor farmers in developing countries. The 2013 report also marked the second consecutive year developing countries grew more than industrial countries in regard to biotech crops.
Additionally, progress is being made in areas that have a serious need, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. A total of 10 countries in Africa are involved to some degree with biotech crops. Seven of those 10 countries are conducting field experiments. One public/private partnership project that is helping build technical breeding and biotechnology capacity as well as seed systems in Africa is WEMA (Water Efficient Maize for Africa). WEMA is led by the Kenyan-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and involves Monsanto, CIMMYT and five National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation and USAID fund the partnership project. WEMA is working to deliver the first biotech drought-tolerant maize in Africa within the next few years. Monsanto also is providing maize germplasm to enable the breeding efforts, offering technical expertise to develop and deploy locally adapted maize hybrids, and donating its commercial drought-tolerance and insect-protection traits royalty-free.
According to the report, biotech crops’ benefits include positive contributions to climate change, food security and sustainability—including conserving biodiversity and reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint.
Review ISAAA’s infographic below for more details about the report and facts about biotech’s contributions.
To learn more about ISAAA, please visit http://www.isaaa.org.