U.S. farmers prefer bipotech crop varieties

American farmers have adopted genetically engineered (GE) crops widely since their introduction in 1996, especially corn, cotton and soybean varieties, according to a new USDA report.

USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) report, Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S. was released July 1, 2009. Key findings include:

• Adoption of GE soybeans is 91 percent in 2009.

• Adoption of all GE cotton reached 88 percent in 2009.

• Adoption of all biotech corn climbed to 85 percent in 2009.

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, executive vice-president, food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to the report's findings:

"Because of the compelling benefits that biotech crops provide, herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant varieties of corn, cotton and soybeans continue to be the choice of American farmers. Since 1996, these crops have proved to yield more per acre and reduce farmers' production costs with more environmentally friendly farming practices.

"The move to biotechnology and modern farming practices is reflected in the choices of farmers around the world. In 2008, 309 million acres of biotech crops were planted in 25 countries by 13.3 million farmers. At a time when the United States and the world are looking for sustainable, science-based solutions to rising food and fuel demands, this trend is likely to continue.

"Agricultural biotechnology has significant environmental benefits because biotech crop varieties thrive with less tilling and fewer pesticide applications, thereby saving fuel and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the air. In 2007, this was equivalent to removing 14.2 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or equal to removing nearly 6.3 million cars from the road for one year.

"The next generation of biotech crops, with resistance to environmental stresses such as drought and flood, and the ability to better use soil nutrients, promise to increase productivity in areas with less than adequate growing conditions, including many developing countries. And we continue to discover new energy sources with biofuels made from corn, wood, grasses, algae and non-edible parts of plants- such as cornstalks.

"Farmers in the United States and around the world recognize how biotechnology improves their bottom line by reducing their costs and increasing crop productivity. Agricultural biotechnology is providing science-based solutions to the challenges we face today and tomorrow to more sustainably feed and fuel the world.”

The report summarizes the extent of adoption of herbicide-tolerant and insect–resistant crops since their introduction in 1996. Three tables within the report devoted to corn, cotton, and soybeans cover the 2000-09 period by U.S. state.

A copy of the USDA ERS report, Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S. (July 1, 2009) including data tables is posted at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/BiotechCrops.

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