Five Countries Produce 91% of the World's Biotech Crops
In 2019, the 24th year of commercial planting of biotech crops, the global adoption was recorded for a total of 72 countries, 29 planting and an additional 43 importing for food, feed, and processing. A total of 190.4 million hectares of biotech crops were grown by 29 countries—24 developing and 5 industrial.
Fifty-six percent of the global biotech crop area was grown in developing countries, while industrial countries planted the remaining 44 percent. From 1996 to 2019, a total of 2.7 billion hectares of biotech crops were planted by almost 30 countries across six continents.
The top five biotech crop-growing countries—the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and India—planted a total of 172.7 million hectares, equivalent to 91 percent of the total biotech crop area in 2019. Biotech crop adoption in these countries reached close to saturation.
The major biotech crops planted and adopted by the 29 countries include soybeans, maize, cotton, and canola. Based on the global crop area for these crops, 79% of cotton, 74% of soybeans, 31% of maize, and 27% of canola were biotech crops in 2019.
The United States is the world’s leader in the commercial cultivation of biotech crops since 1996. In 2019, a total of 71.5 million hectares of biotech crops were planted in the country, equivalent to 38% of the global biotech crop area. Ten biotech crops were commercially planted in the US in 2019, including soybeans, maize, cotton, alfalfa, canola, sugar beets, potatoes, papaya, squash, and apples.
Brazil, the second-largest and the top developing country producer of biotech crops planted 52.8 million hectares of biotech crops in 2019. Four biotech crops were planted in Brazil in 2019, including soybeans, maize, cotton, and sugarcane. Biotech soybeans is the top biotech crop in Brazil in 2019, planted in 35.1 million hectares, surpassing the US biotech soybean area for the first time.
Argentina maintained its ranking as the third-largest producer of biotech crops in the world in 2019 and planted ~24 million hectares, equivalent to 13% of the global biotech crop area. Four biotech crops were planted in Argentina in 2019, including soybeans, maize, cotton, and alfalfa. Biotech alfalfa was planted for the first time in Argentina in 2019.
Canada, the fourth-largest producer of biotech crops in 2019, planted 12.46 million hectares, 7% of the global biotech crop area. Canada is one of the six “founder biotech crop countries,” having commercialized herbicide tolerant canola in 1996, the first year of commercialization of biotech crops. The six biotech crops grown in Canada in 2019 were canola, soybeans, maize, sugar beets, alfalfa, and potatoes.
India is the fifth-largest producer of biotech crops in the world in 2019 and planted 11.9 million hectares of Bt cotton, reaching 94% adoption rate. Since 2015, India has been the world’s top cotton-producing country, planting more than a quarter of the world’s cotton.
Read more about the top five biotech crop-growing countries in the updated Biotech Country Facts and Trends:
- ISAAA Brief No. 55 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2019
- GM Crops: Global Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts 1996-2018
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