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Report shows biotechnology's role in sustainable agriculture

Farmers around the world continue to enthusiastically embrace genetically engineered (GE) crops according to a report released by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The ISAAA report, "The Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops:2008," says a record 13.3 million farmers in 25 countries are using agricultural biotechnology today. Ninety percent (12.3 million) of these are resource-poor farmers in 15 developing countries.

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, Executive Vice President, Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to the report's findings:

"The ISAAA report further illustrates what we have known all along, that biotechnology is a key component contributing to sustainable agriculture. Ag biotech provides solutions for today's farmers in the form of plants that yield more per acre, resist diseases and insect pests and reduce farmers' production costs, and 'inputs'.

"When you look at the rising number of acres of biotech crops planted each year (309 million in 2008 compared with 282 million in 2007) and the increasing number of farmers who have chosen this technology (13.3 million in 2008 compared with 12 million in 2007), it's obvious that biotech crops are delivering value to more and more growers around the world.

"In the United States more than 154 million acres of biotech crops were planted in 2008, up from 143 million acres in 2007. The primary biotech crops grown in the United States are corn, cotton, canola and soybeans, but also squash, papaya, alfalfa, and sugarbeet.

"At a time when the United States and the world are looking for science-based solutions to help feed a growing population, agricultural biotechnology is able to deliver heartier crops that produce more food, often in areas with less-than-perfect growing conditions.

"Ag biotechnology also has environmental benefits because biotech crop varieties require less cultivation and fewer pesticide applications, thereby saving fuel and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the air. This also improves soil health and water retention.

"The trends we see today will likely continue. The next generation of biotech crops with resistance to additional diseases and increased tolerance for environmental stresses like drought and flooding will boost productivity even more. And we'll see increased demand for biotech foods that have been nutritionally enhanced or engineered to help combat human disease.

"The findings of this report prove that the United States and countries around the world are turning to science and technology to meet today's challenges in agriculture, food and energy production. The biotechnology industry is committed to providing solutions to enlist in that effort."


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