Study: Biotech Crops Return Benefits to Farmers, Economy

Biotech crops have beneficial impact on the environment and farmers' bottom lines, report finds

Published on: May 7, 2014

Crop biotechnology continues to provide environmental benefits and allow farmers to grow more, using fewer resources, a report prepared by PG Economics and released Tuesday said. A majority of these benefits are in developing countries.

"In the 17th year of widespread adoption, crops developed through genetic modification delivered more environmentally friendly farming practices while providing clear improvements to farmer productivity and income," said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics and co-author of the report.

"Half of the farm income gains and the majority of the environmental gains associated with changes in pesticide use and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions occurred in developing countries," he added.

Biotech crops have beneficial impact on the environment and farmers bottom lines, report finds
Biotech crops have beneficial impact on the environment and farmers' bottom lines, report finds

According to the report:

• Crop biotechnology has contributed to significantly reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices. This results from less fuel use and additional soil carbon storage from reduced tillage with GM crops. In 2012, this was equivalent to removing 27 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing 11.9 million cars from the road for one year;

Related: Top 10 Facts About Biotech Crops

• Crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying (1996-2012) by 503 million kg (-8.8%). This is equal to the total amount of pesticide active ingredient applied to arable crops in the EU 27 for nearly two crop years. As a result, this has decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on the area planted to biotech crops by 18.7%;

• The insect resistant technology used in cotton and corn has consistently delivered yield gains from reduced pest damage. The average yield gains over the 1996-2012 period across all users of this technology has been +10.4% for insect resistant corn and +16.1% for insect resistant cotton;