Farmer Leaders Recognize Planting of One-Billionth Biotech Acre

May 09, 2005

Farmer leaders from the American Soybean Association (ASA), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the National Cotton Council (NCC) met in Chicago today to recognize the planting of the one-billionth acre of biotech-enhanced agricultural commodities. Representatives from Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) were also on hand to talk about an acreage counter that is being used to track the planting of biotech acres around the world.

"U.S. farmers are adopting biotechnology because they recognize the safety, benefits and potential of biotechnology," said Darrin Ihnen, a South Dakota farmer who serves as Chairman of NCGA’s Biotechnology Working Group. "As a farmer, it’s important that I find ways to become more efficient in my operation. Biotechnology helps reduce the amount of insecticides and herbicides I use."

Biotechnology also results in less soil erosion, less fuel emissions and less herbicide carryover, which provides for healthier groundwater, rivers and streams.

"The one billionth acre of biotech crops has been planted and I’m thrilled that we are acknowledging this milestone," states Dean Kleckner, an Iowa farmer and Chairman of TATT. "The astonishing speed with which farmers from around the world have adopted this technology is significant."

Given the world’s growing population, the United Nations Population Fund reports that farmers will have to produce about 75 percent more food per acre by 2020 to meet anticipated demand.

"Farmers are both producers and consumers of the food and fiber that comes from our farms," said Neal Bredehoeft, a Missouri farmer who serves as ASA President. "This dual position helps us recognize that biotechnology is another in a long line of advancements that have helped make our supply of food and fiber the safest and healthiest in the world."

Globally, 6 percent of canola, 11 percent of cotton, 23 percent of corn and 60 percent of soybeans are grown from biotech-enhanced seedstock.

“I'm looking forward to the next generation of biotech products' traits to enhance fiber quality, improve food safety, impart stress tolerance to plants and allow plants to grow in saline soils,” said Craig Shook, a Texas cotton producer who serves as NCC Secretary-Treasurer.

About the Planting of the One-Billionth Biotech Acre

  • Included in the one billion biotech acres figure are 2 million acres of crops such as papaya, squash, and potatoes, and 61.7 million acres of canola. It also includes 113.9 million acres of cotton, 247 million acres of corn and 575.4 million acres of soybeans.

  • Globally, 6 percent of canola, 11 percent of cotton, 23 percent of corn and 60 percent of soybeans are grown from biotech-enhanced seedstock.

  • In 2004, while 59 percent of all biotech-enhanced crops were planted in the U.S., the other 41 percent of biotech crops were planted in the countries of Argentina, Canada, Brazil, China, Paraguay, India, South Africa, Uruguay, Australia, Romania, Mexico, Spain and the Philippines. Last year, 50,000 or more hectares, that’s roughly equivalent to 123,000 or more acres, of biotech-enhanced crops were grown in each of these countries.

  • Crop biotechnology has led to reduced tillage practices across all crops with biotech traits. These reduced tillage practices are saving 1 billion tons of topsoil annually, reducing by 309 million gallons the amount of fuels used by farmers and decreasing greenhouse gases released by 1 billion pounds. Biotechnology has decreased pesticide applications by 46 million pounds and is saving U.S. consumers $3.5 billion in water treatment and management costs.

  • Crop biotechnology has increased net income for farmers by $1.9 billion due to reduced cost of production by $1.47 billion and increasing yields by 5.3 billion pounds, which has increased gross revenues by $409 million.

  • It is a misconception that plant biotechnology research is confined to private companies in rich countries. According to a new report, 63 developing countries are conducting plant biotech research across 57 different crops. There are real-world examples showing how biotechnology is helping people improve their diets and their incomes.