Biotech Updates

The Benefits of Biotech to Agriculture

September 23, 2011

The biotech industry boosted farming globally by almost $65 billion from 1996 to 2009, according to the latest analysis conducted by Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot of PG Economics Ltd. in United Kingdom. Brookes and Barfoot investigated the economic impact at the farm level of agricultural biotechnology, looking at yields, key costs of production, direct farm income, indirect farm level income effects and impacts on the production base of the four major crops of soybeans, corn, cotton and canola. Based on the results of their analyses, there was about $65 billion increase in the net farm income, which is the farm level benefit after paying for the seed and its biotech traits. They estimated that almost half of the global net income comes are from the farmers in the developing countries.

"Biotech, and specifically genetically modified (GM) crops has had a significant positive impact on farm income derived from a combination of enhanced productivity and efficiency gains," the team estimated. It has added 5.8% to the value of global production for the four main crops investigated, with cost savings being greatest for soy. In terms of the division between different parts of the world, the team reports that in 2009, 53.1% of the farm income benefits went to developing country farmers and the vast majority of those income gains were from GM insect-resistant cotton and GM herbicide-tolerant soybeans.

The full report is published by International Journal of Biotechnology.

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