GM Crops: Top Ten Facts and Figures

To mark my first week on the job here at the University of Saskatchewan, a ‘top ten’ list on GM:

*Genetically Modified Crops: Top Ten Facts and Figures*
Thursday, October 8, 2009

*Formation Farming
*

Workers harvest soybeans in Mato Grosso state in western Brazil. Soybean is the top GM crop, taking up over half of all GM farmland01. The first commercial GM food was the FlavrSavr tomato developed in the early 1990s in California. It was genetically altered so that it took longer to decompose after being picked.

*01.* The first commercial GM food was the FlavrSavr tomato developed in the early 1990s in California. It was genetically altered so that it took longer to decompose after being picked.

*02.* GM crops have been grown commercially since 1996. Since then the GM market has grown 74-fold and spread to 25 countries. The global value of the GM crop market was 7.5 billion dollars in 2008.

*03.* There were 125 million hectares of GM crops worldwide in 2008, about 6 to 7 percent of the total cultivated land area. That is an increase of nearly 10 percent on the 114 million hectares in 2007.

*04.* The top three GM crops in 2008 were soybeans (53 percent of total GM area), maize (30 percent), and cotton (15 percent). Others include rapeseed (canola), alfalfa, and papaya.

*05.* Ninety percent of GM crops, and almost all GM food crops, are grown in four countries—the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Canada. The U.S. produces almost half of all GM crops.

*06. *There are 13.3 million farmers cultivating GM crops. The vast majority are smallholders in China (7.1 million) and India (5 million) who are growing GM cotton.

*07.* Almost all commercial GM crops today are genetically altered for one or both of two main traits: herbicide tolerance (63 percent) and insect resistance (15 percent), while 22 percent have both traits. Different genetic traits are combined to create “stacked” GM crops.

*08.* In the United States 12.2 million hectares of GM crops (nearly 10 percent of the global total) were used for biofuels in 2008.

*09.* According to industry researc, in 2007 GM crops saved 15.6 million tons of CO2 through rejduced herbicide and pesticide use and reduced tillage, the equivalent of removing 6.3 million cars from the road.

*10.* Future GM crops likely to be commercialized by 2015 include rice, eggplant, potatoes, and wheat. Drought resistant and nutritionally enhanced crops are also expected in the near future.

Sources: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA); International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute for Prospective Technological Studies; International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development; United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization10. Future GM crops likely to be commercialized by 2015 include rice, eggplant, potatoes, and wheat. Drought resistant and nutritionally enhanced crops are also expected in the near future.

Source: Allianz Available online at: http://greenbio.checkbiotech.org/news/gm_crops_top_ten_facts_and_figures

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