Tricia Braid

May 06, 2013  |  Today's News

With all the uproar about GMO crops and foods these days, it’s a bit difficult to find a positive story. The sheer volume of incorrect information has typically won the day on this issue. A new report out of the United Kingdom has turned the tide, at least in the short term. Illinois Corn Growers Association continues to support science-based approvals of GMO products and traits. Click the link above to read more

In a new report, the United Kingdom-based PG Economics shows that over a 16 year period, the adoption of GMO cropping systems has had significant positive impacts to farmers and customers. The report, GM crops: global socio-economic and environmental impacts 1996-2011, cites several key findings.

Remember, the most recent research indicates that non-farmers are less interested in the farm-level benefits of GMOs. They’re most interested in consumer benefits of the cropping system and are fearful of the unknown.

The report finds:

The net economic benefit at the farm level in 2011 was $19.8 billion.

For the 16-year period (1996-2011), the global farm income gain was $98.2 billion.

Of the total farm income benefit, 49 % ($48 billion) was due to yield gains resulting from lower pest and weed pressure and improved genetics, with the balance from reductions in the cost of production.

The insect resistant technology used in cotton and corn has consistently delivered yield gains from reduced pest damage. The average yield gains over the 1996-2011 period across all users of the technology was +10.1 percent for insect resistant corn and +15.8 % for insect resistant cotton.

A majority (51%) of the 2011 farm income gains went to farmers in developing countries, 90% of which are resource poor and small farms.

Between 1996 and 2011, crop biotechnology was responsible for an additional 110 million tons of soybeans and 195 million tons of corn.

Without crop biotechnology, maintaining global production at the 2011 levels would have required an additional 13.344 million acres of soybeans, 16.309 million acres of corn, 8.155 million acres of cotton and 494,000 acres of canola.

Crop biotechnology has contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by reducing fuel use and additional soil carbon storage from reduced tillage.

Crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying by 474 million kilograms (-9%).