We have been consuming food from genetically modified or GM crops for 18 years. Some calculations talk about 375 million tons of genetically modified food consumed, without any report of any documented case of negative impact in human or animal health, or harmful effects for the environment. The genetically modified crops have been the most evaluated in human history. The genetically modified crops, in addition to being studied to prove their harmlessness or their safety for the consumer, have also been evaluated to guarantee that they do not harm the environment. Biotechnology is a key tool for the development of sustainable agriculture. Some of the advantages to the environment offered by genetically modified crops are:
- The genetically modified crops which are resistant to herbicides facilitate the adoption of production systems with minimum tillage. This contributes to the reduction of erosion and greenhouse gas emissions. They also improve the humidity of the soil and increase the carbon storage.
- According to ISAAA International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (2013), thanks to agricultural biotechnology production increased by 175 million tons in 2013. This amount would have required 75 million additional hectares of land if the genetically modified crops had not been used.
- Genetically modified crops in general have reduced the ecological track produced by agriculture due to the decrease in pesticide application, a greater efficiency in the use of water and better crop yields.
Benefit to Farmers
Beginning in 1996, the world area for this kind of crops has increased more than 94 times reaching 175 million hectares in 27 countries in the year 2013. Farmers with scarce resources in developing countries represent 52% of the 17 million farmers that benefit from biotechnology worldwide. Many farmers have adopted this technology quicker than any other technology because they know its value and the return on the investment. The World Bank and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) agree that the access to new technologies by farmers is a condition to increase productivity and improve the quality of rural life. It has been proven that extensive biotechnology crops such as corn, cotton, soy beans and canola have increased farmers’ agricultural productivity and income.
Benefit to Community
Agricultural biotechnology is one of the key tools that may be used to produce enough food for an increasing population, decrease the malnutrition rate and keep food at a low price. Organizations like FAO, IICA and the World Bank highlight the importance of the agrobiotechnology in contributing to the food supply challenge.
Biotechnology is not a new technique
The history of biotechnology dates back several centuries. Man used to realize empirical practices to select plants and animals and in fermentation to optimize the production of wine, bread, cheese and other products. Genetics and scientific knowledge have evolved to become “modern biotechnology”, applied to different areas such as medicine, agriculture or the food industry. In the case of agricultural biotechnology, scientists can identify specific genes responsible for a particular feature, extract them and transfer them into a specific plant. Biotechnology, like the traditional techniques, is a safe and efficient tool.
Myths and Realities Transgenic Crops
The first transgenic crops or genetically modified (GM) were first planted in 1996, since that same year became part of the global food chain.
In 2010, according to a report of the International Service for The acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA, by sugla English) transgenic crops amounted to 148 million hectares in 29 countries, which demonstrates the rapid adoption of this technology.
However, there are several myths about this science. Learn more about the 6 Myths in this publication.
Transgenic Crops in the World
In 2015, the producers of Latin America, Asia and Africa sowed 54 per cent of the surface cultivated with GM crops in the whole world (97,1 million hectares of 179,7 millions of hectares cultivated in the world). Of 28 countries that sowed GM crops, 20 were developing countries.
|-2,000 million hectares were sowed by GM crops between 1996 to 2015-|
Biotechnology Recommended Links
- CropLife International
- Servicio internacional para la adquisición de las Aplicaciones Agrobiotecnólogicas, ISAAA
- Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Aimentación, FAO
- AgroBio Colombia
- AgroBIo México
- Cámara Uruguaya de Semillas
- Red de Cooperación técnica en Biotecnología Vegetal para América Latina y el Caribe, REDBIO
- Por qué la Biotecnología