Thursday, January 29, 2015

Biotech Crops Show Sustained Growth and Benefits in 2014; Global Plantings Increase by 6 Million Hectares

The 2014 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops, authored by Clive James, Founder and Emeritus Chair of ISAAA, reports that a record 181.5 million hectares of biotech crops were grown globally, an increase of more than 6 million hectares from 2013. With the addition of Bangladesh, 28 countries grew biotech crops during the year. The 20 developing and eight industrial countries where biotech crops are planted represent more than 60 percent of the world’s population.

“The accumulated hectarage of biotech crops grown in 1996 to 2014 equals, roughly, 80 percent more than the total land mass of China. Global hectarage has increased more than 100-fold since the first plantings of biotech crops.” - Clive James

Since 1996, more than 10 food and fiber biotech crops have been approved and commercialized around the world. These range from major commodities such as maize, soybean and cotton, to fruits and vegetables like papaya, eggplant and, most recently, potato. The traits of these crops address common issues affecting crop benefits to the consumer and production rates for farmers, including drought tolerance, insect and disease resistance, herbicide tolerance and increased nutrition and food quality. Biotech crops contribute to more sustainable crop production systems and provide resilient responses to the challenges of climate change.

According to the Report, the United States continues to lead production at 73.1 million hectares, up 3 million hectares from 2013, the highest year-over-year increase, surpassing Brazil, which has recorded the highest annual increase for the past five years.


The Report also highlighted key benefits of biotechnology, including alleviation of poverty and hunger by boosting the income of risk-averse small, resource-poor farmers around the world. Latest global provisional information for the period 1996 to 2013 shows that biotech crops increased production valued at US$133 billion; in the period 1996 to 2012 pesticide use decreased significantly saving approximately 500 million kg of active ingredient. In 2013 alone, crop plantings lowered carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to removing 12.4 million cars from the road for one year.

These findings are consistent with a rigorous meta-analysis, conducted by economists Wilhelm Klumper and Matin Qaim in November 2014, which concludes that GM technology has, on average, reduced chemical pesticide use by 37 percent, increased crop yields by 22 percent, and increased farmer profits by 68 percent during the 20-year period 1995 to 2014. 

A corn farmer's family in the Philippines (ISAAA file photo)

Bangladesh: a model for success

Bangladesh, one of the smallest and poverty-stricken countries in the world, approved Bt brinjal (eggplant) in October 2013. Commercial planting began in January 2014 when 120 farmers planted 12 hectares of Bt brinjal throughout the year. Bt brinjal not only brings financial opportunity to farmers in the country, but also decreases farmer exposure to pesticides by 70 to 90 percent.

“The timely approval and commercialization of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh speaks to the power of political will and support from the government. This lays the foundation as a model of success for other small, poor countries to quickly introduce the benefits of biotech crops.”

The case of Bangladesh in 2014 reconfirms the value and success of public-private partnerships. The Bt biotech trait for brinjal – one of the most nutritious and important vegetables in Bangladesh – was donated by Mahyco, an Indian company.

“Public-private partnerships continue to increase the probability of timely delivery of approved biotech crops at the farm level,” James said. “They will remain essential in the years to come.”

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project is another example of a public-private partnership at work. Beginning in 2017, select African countries are scheduled to receive the first biotech drought tolerant maize, a food staple for more than 300 million Africans. The donated biotechnology trait is the same as the DroughtGard™ variety used in the United States, which increased 5.5-fold in planted hectares from 2013 to 2014. This demonstrates strong farmer acceptance of the biotech drought tolerant maize.

New approvals address consumer concerns

In the United States, approval of the Innate™ potato was granted in November 2014. The Innate potato decreases production of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen, when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. Furthermore, it increases consumer satisfaction while precluding up to 40 percent yield loss as the potato will not discolor when peeled and has fewer bruising spots. These attributes will have meaningful impact on food security as food waste continues as an important factor in the discussion of feeding 9.6 billion people in 2050 and approximately 11 billion in 2100.

Potatoes represent the fourth most important food staple in the world. As such, a continuous effort is being made to improve the potato and combat losses due to diseases, insects and weeds, and other constraints.

Biotech-based control of the fungal disease late-blight, the most important disease of potatoes in the world, is already being field-tested in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. Late-blight caused the 1845 Irish famine, which resulted in 1 million deaths. Biotech control of virus diseases and the Colorado beetle, the most important insect pest, are already available, but not deployed.

Status of biotech crops in Asia

In Asia, China and India continue to lead developing countries growing biotech crops at 3.9 million hectares and 11.6 million hectares planted in 2014, respectively.

The adoption rate of biotech cotton in China increased from 90 to 93 percent in 2014, while virus resistant papaya plantings increased approximately 50 percent. More than 7 million small farmers in the country continue to benefit from biotech crops and the latest economic data available indicates farmers in the country have gained US$16.2 billion since the introduction of biotech in 1996.

Bt cotton farmer in China (ISAAA file photo)

According to the Report, India cultivated a record 11.6 million hectares of Bt cotton with an adoption rate of 95 percent. Economists Brookes and Barfoot estimate that India enhanced farm income from Bt cotton by US$ 2.1 billion in 2013 alone.

Farmers at a cotton farm in India (ISAAA file photo)

Developing countries Vietnam and Indonesia granted approval for commercialization of biotech crops to begin in 2015. This includes several hybrids of biotech maize for importing and planting in Vietnam and drought tolerant sugarcane for planting as a food crop in Indonesia
  
Growth continues in Africa and Latin America

Having cultivated 2.7 million hectares in 2014, South Africa ranks as the leading developing country to grow biotech crops in Africa. Sudan increased Bt cotton hectarage by approximately 50 percent in 2014 and several African countries including Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda conducted field trials on several pro-poor crops including the food crops rice, maize, wheat, sorghum, bananas, cassava and sweet potato. These crops can contribute to resilience and sustainability in the face of new climate change challenges.

In Latin America, Brazil ranked second, after the United States, for biotech crops planted in 2014. At 42.2 million hectares, this represents an increase of 5 percent from 2013.

Biotech crops impact food security, sustainability and the environment

From 1996 to 2013, biotech crops have increased crop production valued provisionally at $US133 billion; helped alleviate poverty for more than 16.5 million small farmers and their families – more than 65 million people, collectively – some of the poorest people in the world; and decreased the environmental impact of food and fiber production by reducing pesticide use, increasing land savings and reducing CO2 emissions.

According to economists Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot, if the 441 million tons of food, feed and fiber from biotech crops from 1996 to 2013 were not produced, an additional 132 million hectares of conventional crops would be needed to produce the same tonnage. This required increase in hectares could have negative impacts for biodiversity and the environment due to a greater demand for cultivated land.


The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) is a not-for-profit organization with an international network of centers designed to contribute to the alleviation of hunger and poverty by sharing knowledge and crop biotechnology applications. Clive James, Emeritus Chairman and Founder of ISAAA, has lived and/or worked for the past 30 years in the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa, devoting his efforts to agricultural research and development issues with a focus on crop biotechnology and global food security.


For more information about ISAAA and Brief 49, visit http://www.isaaa.org.


The Top 10 Facts, infographics, and PowerPoint slides are available at: http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/49/default.asp.



Friday, June 06, 2014

How Biotech Corn Transformed a Farmer’s Life and Made Him the Community’s VIP

Ryan Lising, 39, has lived all his life in a farming community in Mandani, Magalang, Pampanga, one of seven provinces in Central Luzon, Philippines. 

Like his father before him, Ryan is a corn farmer, and corn is his family’s main source of income. Corn gives him money not only to send his four children to school, but also to help him expand his business and buy his own farm machinery. His crop also allows him to assist other corn farmers in their community. But unlike his father who planted white corn before him, Ryan plants biotech corn now — a crop that has made him an important person in their community.

Planting biotech corn has made Filipino farmer Ryan Lising an important person in his community. 
(Photo by Ian Mari Reaño)

‘It was never enough’

Before he ventured into farming, Ryan worked as a messenger and errand boy for some of the big corn farms in Mandani. When his motorcycle was stolen, he felt that he lost his family's livelihood, too.

He was helpless without the motorcycle that allowed him to move faster around the community, doing his job. Ryan then became a farmhand, working on different farms doing all available work.

“I used to wake up at four in the morning to look for work. I went from one farm to the next, hoping to get a job that will help me feed my family.”

Despite Ryan's perseverance and hard work to provide for his young family of four, it seemed that "it was just never enough".

In 1996, after participating in a corn farm demonstration, Ryan sought his father's help so he could plant white corn in the family's 1.5 hectare farmland. His income improved a bit, but his crop challenged him.

"White corn is very laborious to plant. It needs more insecticides and we need to apply granular insecticide to each plant on a daily basis depending on the level of infestation."

The challenges continued to chase him, including the low selling price of corn, on top of the relentless pests, and the high prices of insecticides needed to control them.


New life

Years went by and Ryan’s struggles with farming remained unabated. Change came in 2003 after the Philippine government approved the commercial planting of Bt corn in the country.

Ryan became one of the early adopters of Bt corn when it was introduced by seed company technicians in Mandani in 2003. Though uncertain about the new corn that the technicians introduced in the farm demonstration, his frustrations with white corn - his crop then - urged him to try it.

Following his first Bt corn harvest, it became clear to Ryan that there was no turning back. He knew that it was the beginning of a new life for him and his family, who has faced so many hardships in trying to make ends meet.

“When I realized that I will earn more if I plant Bt corn, I decided to add two more children to my brood. Sending my children to school was not that difficult anymore.”

When stacked traits corn was approved for commercial planting in the country, Ryan did not hesitate to plant it on his farm which has grown from 1.5 to more than 20 hectares.

“I have a new motorcycle now to replace the stolen one, and I was able to buy my own farm machines. I have two trucks and two tractors, and I am getting a new, bigger tractor soon.”

Ryan also has more time to spend with his family because he does not need to spend a lot of time on his farm. He also found other means of livelihood in their community.

A portion of Ryan's farm in Mandani, Magalang, Pampanga. (Photo by Ian Mari Reaño)

'An important man'

A decade of planting biotech corn has changed Ryan’s and his family’s life. His increased and steady income from planting biotech corn allowed him to explore other business opportunities.

He says that nowadays, he still wakes up at four in the morning, but not to look for work anymore.

“I go to different corn farms in our village to see their corn. I am now a corn buyer.”

Ryan uses his two trucks to transport the corn that he buys from the various farms in their village. He also buys and transports other agricultural produce such as sweet corn and vegetables, and helps the people in their village by providing them with jobs, an undertaking that makes him proud.

“Biotech corn changed my life completely. After years of planting it, I am now an important man.”

Ryan Lising is one of 397,500 farmers in the Philippines who is growing and enjoying the benefits of biotech corn in 2013. The Philippines is among the 27 countries in the world and one of the six developing countries in Asia (including India, China, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh), that are commercially planting biotech crops.

Monday, April 21, 2014

ISAAA Brief 46 Publications, Videos



ISAAA's Brief 46, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in 2013, written by ISAAA founder and emeritus chair Dr. Clive James, has reached over 3.7 billion media impressions 2 months after its global launch. The number of media articles has increased to 2,231 in the same period of time, with Brief 46 materials translated into 45 major languages, reaching 72 countries worldwide.

The two-page highlights of the full Brief 46, "Top Ten Facts on Global Biotech/GM Crops in 2013 has been translated and now available in 53 languages. The languages are: Amharic, Arabic, Bahasa, Balochi, Bangla, BicolanoBisaya, Brahvi, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chichewa, Chinese, Chitumbuka, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Ewe, FarsiFilipino, Finnish, French, German, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Ilokano, Japanese, Kabyè, Khmer, KoreanLuganda, Malay, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Sindhi, Siraiki, Slovak, SpanishSwahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, and Yoruba. The translations are available for download at: http://bit.ly/1gCIRmS.

The Executive Summary, a 13-page document summarizing information on hectarage, adoption, and benefits of biotech crops in 2013, as well as its future prospects, is now available in 12 languages: Arabic, Balochi, Brahvi, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Ukrainian. The translations are available for download at: http://bit.ly/1j7TcIV




ISAAA Brief 46 is also summarized and presented in four videos: 


More information about ISAAA's Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2013 are available at ISAAA's website at http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/46/default.asp. Various information resources, including the Executive Summary and its translations, Top Ten Facts about Biotech/GM Crops in 2013, Powerpoint Slides, Infographics, and videos are all available for download from the same link.

For more information about ISAAA, visit http://www.isaaa.org/, or follow ISAAA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/isaaa.org) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/isaaa_org).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

ISAAA Network Meets in Hanoi

Members of the ISAAA network from 15 countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa gathered together for an annual meeting at Hilton Garden Inn in Hanoi, Vietnam on March 18-19, 2014. Thirty-eight members of the network attended the meeting to evaluate and discuss discuss their knowledge sharing initiatives on biotechnology.


In his welcome message to the group, AgBiotech Vietnam Director Mr. Le Van Tien acknowledged ISAAA as the leading organization sharing knowledge on biotechnology, while Vietnam Institute of Agricultural Genetics Director General Dr. Le Huy Ham said that it is a great experience that representatives of Biotechnology Information Centers (BICs) from different parts of the globe convene to strategize on how facts on biotechnology will move forward to the stakeholders. He added that efforts of the BICs will all lead to a greater impact for the future, especially for Vietnam where food security is at risk due to shortage of land, increasing population, and climate change. 

ISAAA Chair Dr. Paul S. Teng facilitated a discussion to synergize the efforts of ISAAA and the BICs to achieve individual and institutional targets. Highlights of research on farmer adoption in Asia, science communication among scientists and academics in Asia, and biotech approvals were also shared with the team. Popular techniques in disseminating information were also discussed during the hands-on workshops on videography and infographics. 

For more information about ISAAA, the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology and Biotech Information Centers, visit the website at: http://www.isaaa.org/, or follow ISAAA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/isaaa.org) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/isaaa_org).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops 2013 Seminars in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Philippines

A month after the international launch of ISAAA's 2013 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in Beijing, 10 countries in Asia have held their respective launches and media seminars. ISAAA's monitoring of the tri-media shows that one month after the international launch, Brief 46 has been mentioned in 1,933 news articles and 1,777 social media posts in 77 countries with a total impression data of 2,147,275,067.

Our previous blog posts discussed the country launches in China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. The following are summaries of the events in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.


BANGLADESH

In Bangladesh, the seminar/launch for ISAAA Brief 46 was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on February 26. The event was highlighted by the keynote speech of Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury. Minister Chowdhury said that "Being an overpopulated country, we will not hesitate in using biotechnology if it is proven to be useful and safe for human, animal and for the environment." She urged scientists to develop new crop varieties through frontier research using biotechnology to combat the environmental hazards like salinity, drought, submergence, and cold.

Bangladesh Biotechnology Information Centre (BdBIC) and ISAAA, in collaboration with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) organized the seminar which was attended by around 350 policy planners, academicians, researchers, extension officers, research students, and journalists.

Dr. James (third from left) is joined by Minister Chowdhury during the launch of Brief 46 in Dhaka.

INDONESIA

The Jakarta, Indonesia seminar was held on February 28, and was attended by 128 people. Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan of Malaysia BIC joined Dr. Clive James and Dr. Randy Hautea by giving a presentation "Communicating Agri-biotech: Scientific Accuracy vs Popularized Myths." Two interviews for release on television were conducted featuring Dr. Clive James.

Drs. James and Hautea was joined by Dr. Arujanan during the launch in Jakarta.

PHILIPPINES

A media conference was held on March 6, 2014 at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City, with more than 60 people in attendance, composed of multi-media journalists, members of the academe, government agencies, private sector, non-government organizations, and local government units. At the conference, ISAAA Chair Dr. Paul Teng talked about food security and how biotech crops help contribute in various aspects of food security, such as improvement of nutrition and agricultural productivity. ISAAA Global Coordinator and SEAsiaCenter Director Dr. Randy Hautea presented the global status, trends, and significant benefits of biotech crop adoption.

Resource persons of the media conference in Makati are (Left to right): DA Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano, ISAAA Global Coordinator and SEAsia Center Director Dr. Hautea, ISAAA Chair Dr. Teng, SEARCA Director Dr. Gil Saguiguit, and Former University of the Philippines President and UPLB Chancellor Dr. Emil Q. Javier.

More information about ISAAA's Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2013 are available at ISAAA's website at http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/46/default.asp. Various information resources, including the Executive Summary, Top Ten Facts about Biotech/GM Crops in 2013Powerpoint Slides, Infographics, and videos are all available for download from the same link.

For more information about ISAAA, visit http://www.isaaa.org/, or follow ISAAA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/isaaa.org) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/isaaa_org).

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops 2013 Seminars in Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar

ISAAA’s 2013 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops, also called ISAAA Brief 46, has been launched in 7 countries in Asia since its international release in Beijing, China on February 13, 2014. Close monitoring of the tri-media shows that two weeks after its launch, Brief 46 has been mentioned in 1,312 news articles and 1,057 social media posts in 66 countries with a total impression data of 1,148,573,861.

The previous blog post discussed the country launches in China, South Korea, and Japan. Following are summaries of the events in Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar.

VIETNAM

In Vietnam, around 126 representatives of media (radio, print, and online), universities, government agencies, and private institutions and companies attended the seminar at Hanoi’s Sofitel Plaza, where Brief 46 was launched on February 20, 2014. The author, Dr. Clive James, presented the highlights of the report including the benefits and future prospects of biotech crops. Other speakers include ISAAA Global Coordinator Dr. Randy A. Hautea, who discussed the impact of biotech corn in the Philippines; ISAAA Chair Dr. Paul Teng talked about food security; and Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre Executive Director Dr. Mahalectumy Arajanan made a presentation on how to communicate biotechnology.

Dr. Clive James at the media conference in Hanoi on February 20.

THAILAND

Around 100 representatives from radio and print media attended the press conference and seminar held at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok on February 21, 2014. Dr. Clive James, author of Brief 46 was asked about GM food safety and biotechnology for biofuel production.

Dr. James at the seminar in Bangkok with Dr. Sutat Sriwitanapongse (left) and Dr. Supat Attathom (right) from Thailand Biotechnology and Biosafety Information Center.

MYANMAR

On February 24, 2014, Brief 46 was launched during an agriculture seminar in Nay Pyi Taw, the new capital city of Myanmar. Myanmar's Union Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, H.E. U Myint Hlaing was present at the seminar and stressed the importance of adopting the appropriate modern technologies including biotechnology in crop production. The event was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MOAI) in collaboration with the National Social and Economic Advisory Council (NSEAC) and ISAAA.

Dr. James presents a replica coin of Dr. Norman Borlaug Congressional Gold Medal to Union Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation H.E. U Myint Hlaing in the presence of Dr. Tin Htut Oo, Chairman of National Economic and Social Advisory Commission and Dr. Tin Htut, Rector of Yezin Agricultural University.
The Minister said “Given the limitation in current activities in plant biotechnology, we have to extend the research activities of plant biotechnology in the near future of which strengthening of technical capacity and human resource development is crucial."

A media conference was also held in Yangon, Myanmar on February 23, which was attended by around 40 tri media practitioners and the private sector.

Updates on the events in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Jakarta, Indonesia will be posted here next week.

More information about ISAAA's Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2013 are available at ISAAA's website at http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/46/default.asp. Various information resources, including the Executive Summary, Top Ten Facts about Biotech/GM Crops in 2013,Powerpoint Slides, Infographics, and videos are all available for download from the same link.

For more information about ISAAA, visit http://www.isaaa.org/, or follow ISAAA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/isaaa.org) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/isaaa_org)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops 2013 Seminars in China, Korea and Japan

Since 1996, during the first year of commercialization of biotech crops, ISAAA has released the annual “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops”, a Brief documenting the latest information on the global status of commercially approved biotech crops. Year after year, ISAAA prepares the Brief and supports its free distribution to developing countries to provide information and knowledge to the scientific community and facilitate a more informed and transparent discussion regarding the potential role of biotech crops in contributing to global food, feed, fiber and fuel security, and a more sustainable agriculture.

The 2013 Global Status Brief is the 18th such publication in its series, and documents the global database on the adoption and distribution of biotech crops in 2013, when 18 million farmers from 27 countries worldwide planted 175.2 million hectares of biotech crops. Below are summaries of the country launches held for ISAAA's 2013 Global Status Brief.

CHINA

The 2013 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops Brief was launched at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) in Beijing, China, on February 14, 2014. The launch was held during the Crop Biological Breeding Industrialization Summit 2014, an event attended by more than three hundred participants from China’s scientific and academic community, government agencies, private sector and media. The summit featured a seminar by Dr. Clive James, author of the Brief and ISAAA’s Founder/Emeritus Chair. ISAAA’s Chair Dr. Paul Teng, discussed Food Security: A Defining Issue for Asia.

Dr. James at the media conference in Beijing on February 13.

On February 13, a day before the summit, the Brief was also launched at its first media conference in Beijing, attended by 40 journalists from 35 media outlets. Dr. James was interviewed by China’s CCTV News, China Business Journal, China Economic Observer, Caixin Media, QQ.com, China National Radio, Health News, and Science News Bi-weekly. Journalists from international media outlets such as Reuters, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg News Week also interviewed Dr. James.


SOUTH KOREA

In Seoul, South Korea, Dr. James presented to members of the media the 2013 global status of biotech crops. Around 20 journalists from Seoul attended the media seminar, and asked Dr. James about the status and development of commercialized biotech crops in Europe, climate change and biotech crops, and the possible solutions to public mistrust and awareness about GM crops.

Dr. James delivers his presentation to members of the media in Seoul.

JAPAN

Around 100 participants attended the media seminar in Tokyo, Japan, with Dr. Masahiro Suzuki of the Council for Biotechnology Information in Japan as seminar chair.

Dr. James gives an overview of his presentation to the audience in Tokyo.

For more information about ISAAA's Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2013, visit the website at http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/46/default.asp. Various information resources, including the Executive Summary, Top Ten Facts about Biotech/GM Crops in 2013, Powerpoint Slides, Infographics, and videos are all available for download from the same link.

For more information about ISAAA, visit http://www.isaaa.org/.