Biotech crop planting jumps 10 percent in 2010; Hits 1 billion hectares

The U.S., Brazil and Argentina have the most biotechnology enhanced crops. Brazil is showing the fastest growth rate.

Global biotech crop plantings surged 10 percent in 2010 to top the 1 billion hectare milestone, according to a report.

As defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, biotech crops refer to engineered plants designed to tolerate herbicides, resist pests and disease and create foods that can last longer, feature key nutrients and produce larger yields. Biotech crops are seen as a way to keep up with the demand for food. Critics pan genetically modified foods.

The report, released Tuesday by the ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications), documents the following:

  • 15.4 million farmers in 29 countries have planted biotech crops;
  • Of those farmers, 14.4 million are considered small scale;
  • Biotech crops have hit the 1 billion hectare mark 15 years since commercialization;
  • Biotech acreage increased 14 million hecatares from 2009 to 2010;
  • The four largest biotech crops are maize, soybean, cotton and canola;
  • Global biotech plantings are now 148 million hectares;
  • And biotech crops cover 59 percent of the world's population.

The U.S. has 66.8 million biotech hectares in production followed by Brazil at 25.4 million, Argentina at 22.9 million, India (9.4 million) and Canada (8.8 million). China has 3.5 million biotech crop hectares.

Of that aforementioned group, Brazil has the largest year-over-year increase at 19 percent. Brazil has managed to double its grain production by increasing cropland by 27 percent.

As for the outlook, the ISAAA expects biotech engineered rice to hit the market in the next five years. Drought tolerate maize is expected in the U.S. by 2012 and Africa by 2017. The ISAAA said:

The percentage of global biotech crops grown by developing countries has increased consistently every year over the last decade, from 14% in 1997, to 30% in 2003, 43% in 2007 and 48% in 2010. Developing countries are almost certain to plant more biotech crops than industrial countries, well before 2015. Rate of hectarage growth in biotech crops between 2009 and 2010 was much higher in developing countries, 17% and 10.2 million hectares, compared with industrial countries at 5% and 3.8 million hectares.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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