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Checkbiotech: Plant biotechnology goes global with research and production in 63 countries
Posted by: DR. RAUPP & madora (IP Logged)
Date: December 10, 2004 07:54AM ;

More biotech crop plantings expected in Asia, Latin America and Africa,
Dezember 2004.

Less than a decade after the first biotech crop was commercialized in
1996, biotech crops are now being grown in 18 countries, and research and
development is being conducted in another 45, according to a study by a
leading U.S. food and trade policy analyst.

"The international adoption and diffusion of biotech crops has gone global
and is poised to transform production and development around the world,"
said C. Ford Runge, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for
International Food and Agricultural Policy and Distinguished McKnight
University Professor of Applied Economics and Law. "Tens of thousands of
lab, greenhouse or field trials have been conducted on about 57 food and
fiber crops in countries on every continent."

The study, "The Global Diffusion of Plant Biotechnology: International
Adoption and Research in 2004," reported the global commercial value of
biotech crops grown in the 2003?2004 crop year at US$44 billion, with 98
percent of that value produced in five countries ? the United States,
Argentina, China, Canada and Brazil ? that grew one or more of four
biotech-enhanced crops: soybeans, cotton, corn and canola.

North America continues to be the leader in producing biotech crops and
conducting research. The value in the United States in 2003?2004 from
growing biotech-enhanced soybeans, corn, cotton and canola was $27.5
billion, about 62 percent of the global total value of biotech crops. And
Canada has researched a larger number of crops than any other country,
according to the study, which was supported by the Council for Biotechnology

But by the next decade, as more developing countries grant approval to grow
these and other biotech crops in development, the global value of biotech
crops is expected to increase to $210 billion. Adoption of these crops in
developing countries could raise the gross domestic product in developing
countries by 2 percent, said the report.

In addition, more than half of the 63 countries engaged in biotech research,
development and production are developing countries.

"We see continuing expansion of commercial and scientific possibilities for
plant biotechnology in the next decade and beyond," said Runge. "Major
expansions in biotech crop approvals and plantings are expected in Asia,
Latin America and parts of Africa."

China, for example, has emerged as a major center for biotech research. Its
government has invested several hundred million dollars, ranking it second
in the world in biotech research funding behind the United States. Other
developing countries that have invested heavily in biotech research to
improve agricultural production and rural incomes include:

? South Africa, which has already approved biotech varieties of corn, cotton
and soybeans for planting, now ranks sixth in the world in the amount of
acres planted with biotech varieties. The country is poised to lead the
continent in development.

? India, where farmers grow and sell insect-resistant cotton, has at least
20 academic and research institutions involved in plant biotech research
covering 16 crops. Many Indian researchers hope to usher in a second "Green
Revolution" while adding another facet to its already-booming, knowledge
based economy.

? In Latin America and the Caribbean, five biotech crops are now approved,
and field trials are being conducted on a variety of plants. Argentina leads
the way, followed by Brazil.

The study by Runge and research associate Barry Ryan follows a similar 2003
report that quantified the value of biotech crops in the United States.

In addition to producing the most value from biotech crops, the United
States is also the leading adopter of biotech crops, approving 14 crops to
date, including corn, cotton, canola, soybeans, chicory, cotton, flax,
melon, papaya, potatoes, rice, squash, sugar beets, tobacco and tomatoes.
Corn, cotton, soybeans, canola, squash, papaya and tobacco are the only
crops with significant planted acreage. From 1991 to 2003, the United States
conducted field trials, with traits being researched in 24 crops in 2003.
Trials included research on fungal-resistant potatoes, peanuts, plums,
bananas, rice, lettuce, salt-tolerant cucumbers, herbicide-tolerant peas,
onions, tobacco and many others.

But developing countries also accounted for three of the top five countries
(including the United States) in gaining value from biotech crops in

? Argentina with $8.9 billion in value from soybeans and corn
? China with $3.9 billion in value from cotton
? Canada with $2 billion in value from canola, corn and soybeans
? Brazil with $1.6 billion in value from soybeans

While biotech research and development in Europe slowed significantly
following the European Union's 1999 de facto moratorium on biotech crop
approvals, which has since been lifted, Europe's stance on biotech crops can
not prevent biotech adoption in the rest of the world.

"If the European Union continues to restrict activity in the sector, it will
slow down this global diffusion, but it cannot stop it," said Runge. "If, on
the other hand, the EU engaged plant biotechnology, it will encourage rapid
international diffusion and adoption."


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