Report: Rootworm Traits Worth $7.1 Billion In Benefits Since 2003

Two scientists from the UK have authored a paper that quantifies the economic benefits from GMO crops.

Published on: May 15, 2013

University of Illinois entomologist Mike Gray recently pointed out in The Bulletin that a new paper has been released showing the global and economic benefits of transgenic crops.

The paper is titled – "GM crops: global socio-economic and environmental impacts 1996-2011." The authors of the paper are Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot, with PG Economics Ltd, Dorchester, United Kingdom.

"As an agricultural entomologist who has conducted western corn rootworm research for many years, I was particularly interested in the overall US farm income gain attributed to corn rootworm Bt hybrids ~ $7.1 billion cumulative benefits since 2003," Gray writes. "Not surprisingly, the economic impact had a wide range of $9.71 to $48.97 per acre. I attribute this to sporadic infestations across fields and years."

New Report Says Rootworm Traits Worth $7.1 Billion In Benefits Since 2003
New Report Says Rootworm Traits Worth $7.1 Billion In Benefits Since 2003

Recent questions about western corn rootworm resistance to Bt has led to a resurgence in soil insecticide use. However, Gray notes there has been an impressive overall reduction in insecticide use since 1996.

Much of the reduction in insecticide use is a result of fewer cornfields being treated for above-ground infestations of stalk-boring insects like European corn borer. Also, the 2003 introduction of corn rootworm Bt hybrids has significantly cut down on planting time soil insecticide applications, Gray notes.

Here are a few highlights from the Brookes and Barfoot report, which was released in April.

•In 2011, the direct global farm income benefit from GM crops was $19.8 billion.

•The largest gains in farm income in 2011 have arisen in the maize sector, largely from yield gains.

•The main farm income impact has been higher yields of about 5% relative to conventional maize.

•In 2011, there were 47.2 million acres (56% of US corn acreage) of the US corn crop planted to Bt hybrids aimed at corn rootworms.

•The net economic impact to producers of Bt corn rootworm hybrids has been $9.71 to $48.97 per acre.

•Cumulatively since 2003, the total farm income gain from the use of GM IR CRW technology in the US maize crop has been +$7.1 billion."

•US – "Since 1996, the cumulative decrease in insecticide ai use has been 42% (40.7 million kg), and the cumulative reduction in the field EIQ load has been 38%.

These estimates of economic and environmental benefits attributed to the use of Bt hybrids attests to the importance of using transgenic inputs as part of an overall IPM approach in the management of agricultural pests. Use of Bt hybrids in a non-integrative fashion will lead to the loss of their effectiveness.

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