Biotech Crops: Helping Farmers Feed the World

March 18th, 2011 :: By Thinking Ahead Editor in Biotech, Soy Foods, Sustainability

 

With the earth’s population growing at a rapid rate, and our resource base shrinking, farmers are under more pressure than ever to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel.

The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) says that in order to meet the projected soybean demand of 2030, farmers would have to add 168 million acres of soybeans to existing production or double their yields per acre to harvest enough soybeans on today’s acreage.1 According to a recent CTIC study, Facilitating Conservation Farming Practices and Enhancing Environmental Sustainability with Ag Biotechnology, “biotech crops are key tools in meeting the future demand for food. No other options have been identified with the potential to improve yields and safeguard the environment as well as biotech crops farmed with sustainable practices.”

Agricultural biotechnology has proven benefits for the environment. In 2007, biotech properties helped farmers cut 47.4 million pounds of herbicide and 8.67 million points of insecticide, compared to 1996 figures.2 The newest generation of biotech crops brings an additional set of benefits. They will be more tolerant to herbicides and more efficiently use water and nitrogen. The new crops also improve the health attributes of oils and grains, and modify or eliminate major allergens.

Millions of farmers have already benefited from biotech crops: 91.5 percent of U.S. soybeans planted in 2009 were biotech varieties. Looking toward 2050, when the world’s population is expected to hit 9 billion, higher yields from biotech varieties will become key to dealing with limited land resources.3

Read the CTIC’s full report on biotechnology-derived crops to find out more about how biotech crops are helping farmers feed the world and let us know what you think.

1 www.ctic.org/BiotechSustainability

2 Facilitating Conservation Farming Practices and Enhancing Environmental Sustainability with Ag Biotechnology, CTIC, 2010

3 www.usatoday.com

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