Global Biotech Crop Acreage Soars

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Clive James cites benefits for poor farmers in developing countries.

Since first commercialized, global planted area of GM crops has increased by more than fifty-fold from 1.7 million hectares in six countries in 1996 to 90 million hectares in 21 countries in 2005, according to a recent report authored by Dr. Clive James, chairman and founder of ISAAA, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. “If you take the first decade of commercialization, it has been incredibly successful — generating approximately $27 billion at the global level, $15 billion of that in developing countries,” James says in a new online video and podcast, both available at

When biotech crops were first commercialized, critics suggested the technology would never be valuable in the developing world. “Here is a technology that is not only scale neutral, but delivers more benefits to the poor,” says James, who has lived and worked for the past 25 years in the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa, devoting his efforts to agricultural research and development issues with a focus on crop biotechnology and global food security. “For example, in the U.S., you would expect, on average, to increase productivity by five percent if you use Bt maize to control European corn borer. In the Philippines … that increase is 40 percent.”

In 2005, resource-poor farmers in developing countries accounted for 90 percent of the 8.5 million growers who benefited from biotechnology. “Another important result in 2005 was that the number of countries growing this technology increased from 17 in 2004 to 21 in 2005,” James continues. “Important to note which those countries were — three of them were in the European Union. France and Portugal resumed the planting of Bt maize, and the Czech Republic planted Bt maize for the first time.”

To view the short video featuring Dr. Clive James, visit Monsanto Company’s Conversations about Plant Biotechnology website:

Note to Editors: 1 hectare = 2.47 acres


Michael Doane

Monsanto Company


michael.k.doane @

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