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Crop biotechnology continues to provide higher farmer income and significant environmental benefits

Published on: 15th July 2020
Published By Graham Brookes



15th July 2020, Dorchester, Dorset: Farmers who planted genetically modified (GM) crops increased their incomes by almost $19 billion in 2018 and reduced carbon emissions by 23 billion kilograms or the equivalent of removing 15.3 million cars from the roads that year.  The higher income represents $4.42 in extra income for each extra dollar invested, according to a report released today by PG Economics.  [Download the Report - PDF - 5.2Mb]

“GM crop technology continues to make an important contribution to reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture and securing global food supplies in a sustainable way.  It has also helped lift many small, resource-poor farmers and their families in developing countries out of poverty” said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics, co-author of the report.  

Highlights in the peer reviewed[1] report include:

Crop biotechnology has reduced agriculture’s environmental impact

  • Crop biotechnology has significantly reduced agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions by helping farmers adopt more sustainable practices such as reduced tillage, which decreases the burning of fossil fuels and retains more carbon in the soil.  Had GM crops not been grown in 2018, for example, an additional 23 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide would have been emitted into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of adding 15.3 million cars to the roads.
  • From 1996 to 2018, crop biotechnology reduced the application of crop protection products by 776 million kilograms, a global reduction of 8.6 percent.  This is equal to more than 1.6 times China’s total crop protection product use each year.  As a result, farmers who grow GM crops have reduced the environmental impact associated with their crop protection practices by 19 percent[2].

Crop biotechnology delivers an excellent return on investment for the farmers using the technology

  • In 2018, farmers in developing countries received $4.42 as extra income for each extra dollar invested in GM crop seeds, whereas farmers in developed countries received $3.24 as extra income for each extra dollar invested in GM crop seeds.
  • The net farm level economic benefit was just under $19 billion in 2018, equal to an average increase in income of $103/hectare.  From 1996 to 2018, the net global farm income benefit was $225 billion, equal to an average increase in income of $96.7/hectare.

Crop biotechnology has contributed to global food security and reduced pressure to use new land in agriculture

  • GM crop technology has improved yields through improved control of pests and weeds.  For example, insect resistant (IR) crop technology used in cotton and corn has, between 1996 to 2018, across all users of this technology, increased yields by an average of 16.5 percent for IR corn and 13.7 percent for IR cotton relative to conventional production systems.  Farmers who grow IR soybeans commercially in South America have seen an average 9.4 percent increase in yields since 2013.
  • Over 23 years of widespread use, crop biotechnology has been responsible for the additional global production of 278 million tonnes of soybeans, 498 million tonnes of corn, 32.6 million tonnes of cotton lint and 14 million tonnes of canola.
  • GM crops allow farmers to grow more without needing to use additional land. For example, if crop biotechnology had not been available to farmers in 2018, maintaining global production levels that year would have required the planting of an additional 12.3 million hectares (ha) of soybeans, 8.1 million ha of corn, 3.1 million ha of cotton and 0.7 million ha of canola.  This is equivalent to needing an additional 14 percent of the arable land in the United States, or roughly 38 percent of the arable land in Brazil or 16 percent of the cropping area in China.

For additional information, contact Graham Brookes at Tel +44(0) 1432 851007. www.pgeconomics.co.uk

[DOWNLOAD COPY OF PRESS RELEASE - PDF]

[DOWNLOAD REPORT - PDF - 5.1Mb]


[1] Peer reviewed means accepted for publication in a scientific journal after review by independent experts in the subject(s).

Environmental impacts of genetically modified (GM) crop use 1996–2018: impacts on pesticide use and carbon emissions - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21645698.2020.1773198

GM crop technology use 1996-2018: farm income and production impacts - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21645698.2020.1779574

[2] As measured by Cornell University’s Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) indicator.

View Graham Brookes ISAAA presentation of report [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzqbXNdFw_A]

Graham Brookes: 15th Jul 2020 08:59:00

Download PDF Version | Download Full Report
 

First Study Of Impact Of Using Biotech-gm Maize In Vietnam Highlights Substantial Economic And Environmental Benefits

First study of impact of using biotech/GM maize in Vietnam highlights substantial economic and environmental benefits. Highlights in the peer reviewed paper include: 225,000 hectares have been planted to maize containing GM traits in Vietnam since 2015 and in 2019, the technology was used on 10.2% of the total maize crop. The technology has enabled Vietnamese farmers to obtain higher yields from better pest and weed control: the GM varieties out-performed conventional varieties by +30.4% (+15.2% if the yield comparison is with only the nearest performing equivalent conventional varieties). The extra production and reduced cost of pest and weed control have provided maize farmers with higher incomes equal to an average of between US $196 per ha (relative to equivalent conventional varieties) and US $330 per ha (average of all conventional varieties). In terms of investment, for each extra US dollar invested in GM maize seed (relative to the cost of conventional seed), farmers gained an average of between US $6.84 and US $ 12.55 in extra income. These levels of return are at the higher end of the range of performance for similar maize seed GM technology in other adopting countries. Aggregate farm incomes have increased by a total of between US $43.8 million (based on the yield gains relative to the nearest equivalent conventional varieties) and US $74.1 million (based on yield gains relative to all conventional varieties). The maize seed technology has reduced insecticide and herbicide spraying. The average amount of herbicide active ingredient applied to the GM crop area was 26% lower than the average value for the conventional maize area and in terms of the associated environmental impact of the herbicide use[3], it was lower by 36% than the average value applicable to the conventional maize area. Insecticides were used on a significantly lower GM crop area and, when used, in smaller amounts. The average amount of insecticide applied to the GM maize crop was 78% lower than the average value for the conventional maize area and, in terms of the associated environmental impact of the insecticide use, it was also lower by 77%.

Crop Biotechnology Continues To Provide Higher Farmer Income And Significant Environmental Benefits

PG Economics Report 2020 - Farmers who planted genetically modified (GM) crops increased their incomes by almost $19 billion in 2018 and reduced carbon emissions by 23 billion kilograms or the equivalent of removing 15.3 million cars from the roads that year. The higher income represents $4.42 in extra income for each extra dollar invested, according to a report released today by PG Economics.

New Paper Quantifies 15 Years Of Economic And Environmental Benefits From Using Biotech-gm Crops In Colombia[1]

Highlights in the peer reviewed[2] paper include: About 1 million hectares have been planted to cotton and maize containing GM traits in Colombia since 2003 and in 2018, the technology was used on the equivalent of 90% and 36% respectively of the total cotton and (commercial) maize crops. Use of this technology has enabled Colombian farmers to obtain higher yields from better pest and weed control (+30.2% from using stacked - herbicide tolerant and insect resistant cotton and +17.4% from using stacked maize). The extra production and reduced cost of pest and weed control have provided maize farmers with higher incomes equal to an average of US $294/ha and an average return on investment equal to +US $5.25 for each extra US $1 spent on GM maize seed relative to conventional seed. For cotton farmers, the average increase in income has been + US $358/ha, with an average return on investment equal to +US $3.09 for each extra US $1 spent on GM seed relative to conventional seed. Farm incomes have increased by a total of just over US $300 million since 2003. The cotton and maize seed technology have reduced insecticide and herbicide spraying by 779,400 kg of active ingredient (-19%) and, as a result, decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on these crops (as measured by the indicator, the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ)) by 26%. The technology has also facilitated cuts in fuel use, resulting in a reduction in the release of greenhouse gas emissions from the GM cotton and maize cropping area and contributed to saving scarce land resources.

Asian Farmers Would See Annual Weed Control Costs Increase By $1.4 To $1.9 Billion Due To Potential Restrictions On Glyphosate Use, New Study Reports

A new paper published in the journal Agbioforum (1) points to higher weed control costs, less effective weed control, more difficult access to fields and lower yields, if farmers in seven Asian countries could no longer use glyphosate. The peer reviewed paper written by Graham Brookes of PG Economics Ltd examined the current use of glyphosate, the reasons for its use and what changes farmers would make to their weed control programs if glyphosate was no longer available for use. Seven countries were included in the study – Australia, China, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand – as these were representative of countries where glyphosate use in agriculture is significant, countries that may be considering use restrictions for glyphosate and countries were farmers are planting glyphosate tolerant crops.