Science Speaks - Blog by ISAAA

10 Countries in Latin America Grow 83.9 Million Hectares of Biotech Crops

By Clement Dionglay
June 16, 2021

Ten countries in Latin America planted biotech crops in 2019 including Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, and Costa Rica for a total of 83.9 million hectares, equivalent to 44% of the 190.4 million hectares global biotech area.

Brazil is the leading developing country planting biotech crops with a total area of 52.8 million hectares, followed by Argentina with 24 million hectares. Both countries are in the top 5 countries planting biotech crops in 2019.

Majority of these ten countries plant biotech soybeans, maize, and cotton. Other biotech crops planted include sugarcane, alfalfa, canola, and pineapple. While most countries plant for domestic and export uses, two countries, Chile and Costa Rica, plant biotech crops for export.

The increases in biotech crop area in most Latin American countries in 2019 compensated for the losses from the extensive drought in 2017 and 2018. In addition, enabling regulations, profitability, high prices, and high market demand in the local and international market; availability of new seed technologies for maize, soybeans, and cotton; subsidized credit for farmers and foreign investments from the industry; favorable weather; and improved agronomic practices with efficient fertilizer applications encouraged the farmers in these countries to plant biotech crops.

Over half a million farmers in Latin America have been benefiting immensely in the last 23 years of biotech crop commercialization. Economic benefits estimated by Brookes and Barfoot (2020) from the respective countries’ start year of planting until 2018 is over US$59.9 billion, with US$6.4 billion for 2018 alone. These are enormous benefits that can only be derived from biotech crops.

To learn more about the ten Latin American countries, download the new and updated Biotech Country Facts and Trends from the ISAAA website.


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