Farmers using improved seeds and biotech crop varieties continue to see significant economic and on-farm environmental benefits, according to the seventh annual report on crop biotechnology impacts prepared by UK-based PG Economics.

The report highlights agricultural biotechnology's contributions to environmental sustainability. Because biotech-enhanced plants have a built-in resistance to pests, growers are using fewer chemical sprays. Also, biotech crops thrive without the need for tilling the soil. This uses less fuel on the farm and allows carbon to remain in the soil, enhancing both air and soil quality.

The PG Economics annual global impacts report quantifies the impact of agricultural biotechnology on the environment and on farmer incomes since biotech's commercialization in 1996. Among the key findings:

• Biotech crops have contributed to significantly reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices. This results from less fuel use and additional soil carbon storage from reduced tillage with biotech crops. In 2010, this was equivalent to removing 8.6 million cars from the road for one year.

• Crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying (1996-2010) by 8.6 percent. As a result, the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on the area planted to biotech crops decreased by 17.9 percent.

• Farmers who use improved seeds and grow biotech crops have seen substantial net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to $14 billion in 2010 and $78.4 billion for the 15-year period.

Download the full report, GM Crops: Global Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts 1996-2010.