Global Status of commercialized BIOTECH/GM Crops: 2004
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Global Status of Biotech Crops in 2004


2004 is the penultimate year of the first decade of the commercialization of genetically modified (GM) or transgenic crops.

In 2004, the global area of biotech crops continued to grow for the ninth consecutive year at a sustained double-digit growth rate of 20%, compared with 15% in 2003. The estimated global area of approved biotech crops for 2004 was 81.0 million hectares up from 67.7 million hectares in 2003. Biotech crops were grown by approximately 8.25 million farmers in 17 countries in 2004, up from 7 million farmers in 18 countries in 2003.

Notably, 90% of the beneficiary farmers were resource-poor farmers from developing countries, whose increased incomes from biotech crops contributed to the alleviation of poverty. The increase in biotech crop area between 2003 and 2004, of 13.3 million hectares is the second highest on record. In 2004, there were fourteen biotech mega-countries (compared with ten in 2003), growing 50,000 hectares or more, 9 developing countries and 5 industrial countries; they were, in order of hectarage, USA, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, China, Paraguay, India, South Africa, Uruguay, Australia, Romania, Mexico, Spain and the Philippines.

bulletDuring the nine-year period 1996 to 2004, global area of biotech crops increased more than 47 fold, from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 81.0 million hectares in 2004, with an increasing proportion grown by developing countries. More than one-third (34%) of the global biotech crop area of 81 million hectares in 2004, equivalent to 27.6 million hectares, was grown in developing countries where growth continued to be strong. It is noteworthy that the absolute growth in biotech crop area between 2003 and 2004 was, for the first time, higher for developing countries (7.2 million hectares) than for industrial countries (6.1 million hectares), with the percentage growth almost three times as high (35%) in the developing countries of the South, compared with the industrial countries of the North (13%). The increased hectarage and impact of the five principal developing countries* (China, India, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa) growing biotech crops is an important trend with implications for the future adoption and acceptance of biotech crops worldwide; see full Brief for biotech crop overviews for each of the five countries. In 2004, the number of developing countries growing biotech crops (11) was almost double the number of industrial countries (6) adopting biotech crops.

Source: Clive James, 2004

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