Because of the environmental, economical and societal benefits they provide, genetically engineered (GE) varieties of soybeans, cotton and corn are the preferred choice of U.S. farmers, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) report, Genetically engineered varieties of corn, upland cotton, and soybeans, by State and for the Unites States, 2000-14, key findings include:
- Of all soybeans grown in the United States, 94 percent is a genetically engineered variety in 2014 (was at 93 percent in 2013).
- Of all corn grown in the United States, 93 percent is a genetically engineered variety in 2014 (up from 90 percent in 2013).
- Of all cotton grown in the United States, 96 percent is a genetically engineered variety in 2014 (was from 90 percent in 2013).
Cathleen Enright, Ph.D., executive vice president for Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to the report’s findings:
“The latest USDA adoption data for genetically engineered crops confirms that U.S. growers continue to choose seeds improved through biotechnology – particularly cotton, soybeans and corn seed varieties.
“Scientific innovation and seed technology allow growers to produce the most reliable and abundant yields with less tilling of the soil and fewer applications of insecticides. These practices promote environmental sustainability, reduce on-farm fuel use, increase profit margins for U.S. farming families and keep food costs affordable for U.S. consumers.
“Modern agricultural systems, including the use of biotechnology, are more important than ever as we look to provide the food, feed, fuel and fiber for nine billion people by 2050. Farmers in the United States and around the world need access to these kinds of technology to meet demand amid the challenges of climate change.
“Currently, a record 18 million farmers are growing biotech crops - 90%, or over 16.5 million, are small resource-poor farmers in developing countries.
“Around the world, policymakers who are focused on combating hunger, keeping food costs affordable, protecting the environment and mitigating climate change are encouraging the adoption of agricultural biotechnology and embracing the solutions that it provides.”
**The report summarizes the extent of adoption of herbicide-tolerant and insect–resistant crops since their introduction in 1996. Three tables within the report devoted to corn, cotton, and soybeans cover the 2000-14 period by U.S. state. It is posted on the USDA-ERS website at http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us.aspx#.U8fhiJRdV8E.