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Source: U.S. Wheat Associates

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) last week released its annual report on the global status of commercialized crops with traits derived from biotechnology.

The report notes that commercial planting of biotech crops increased for the 18th consecutive year in 2013, with 175.2 million hectares grown around the world, up 3 percent from 2012 and over 100 times more than the 1.7 million hectares grown in 1996.

The report also highlights the many benefits of biotechnology that accrue not just to farmers in developing and developed countries but to the environment as well.

The United States is once again the top country for biotech crop plantings, followed by Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada and China.

Bangladesh, Panama and Indonesia also approved biotech crops in 2013 but no planting had occurred.

In total, 36 countries (the EU-27 counting as one) have approved biotech crops for planting, though only 27 currently plant commercial biotech crops.

Farmers in developing nations represent a huge share of those benefitting from biotechnology in 2013. Only eight of the countries planting biotech crops are considered industrialized. Similarly, 90 percent (16.5 billion) of the estimated 18 million farmers growing biotech crops were small, resource-poor farmers.

According to the report, from 1996 through 2012, biotech crops provided benefits to farmers and the environment by:

increasing global crop production by $116.9 billion;

saving 497 million kilograms of active ingredients used in pesticides;

reducing CO2 emissions in 2012 alone by 26.7 billion kg, equivalent to taking 11.8 million cars off the road for one year;

saving 123 million hectares of land; and

helping alleviate poverty for more than 16.5 million small and resource-poor farmers and their families, totaling more than 65 million people.

While wheat is not one of the 27 crops benefiting from biotechnology, U.S. wheat farmers were pleased to see the continued adoption of the technology around the world in other crops. USW remains committed to producing more and better wheat with less impact on the environment. Our top priorities, as always, are on quality, safety and delivering what our customers demand.

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