A retrospective prospective perspective on agricultural biotechnology ten years on


agronomic traits
output traits


Since the first biotech crop was commercialised in 1996, these crops have enjoyed a rapid adoption and are now grown commercially by 8.5 million farmers in 21 countries, an 11 per cent increase from 8.25 million in 17 countries in 2004. Research and development is being conducted in another 45. The billionth cumulative acre of biotech crops was grown in 2005. Notably, last year Iran grew its first crop of biotech rice, the first biotech planting of this important food crop globally. The Czech Republic planted biotech maize for the first time, bringing the total number of European Union (EU) countries growing biotech crops to five with Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic being joined by France and Portugal, which resumed planting biotech maize after four and five-year gaps, respectively. This could signal an important trend in the EU. Although North America leads in the research, more than half of the 63 countries engaged in biotech research, development and production are developing countries. The first generation of such crops focused largely on input agronomic traits, the next generation will focus more on value-added output traits. In the next decade, some studies estimate the global value of biotech crops will increase nearly five-fold to $210bn.


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