Archive for April, 2013


22 April 2013. Source: PG Economics,

In the sixteenth year of widespread adoption, crop biotechnology has delivered an unparalleled level of farm income benefit to the farmers, as well as providing considerable environmental benefits to both farmers and citizens of countries where the technology is used.

“Where farmers have been given the choice of growing GM crops, adoption levels have typically been rapid. Why? The economic benefits farmers realise are clear and amounted to an average of over $130/hectare in 2011” said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics, co-author of the report.

“The majority of these benefits continue to increasingly go to farmers in developing countries. The environment is also benefiting as farmers increasingly adopt conservation tillage practices, build their weed management practices around more benign herbicides and replace insecticide use with insect resistant GM crops. The reduction in pesticide spraying and the switch to no till cropping systems is continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture”.

Previewing the study“GM crops: global socio-economic and environmental impacts 1996-2011”, the key findings are:

  • The net economic benefit at the farm level in 2011 was $19.8 billion, equal to an average increase in income of $133/hectare. For the 16-year period (1996-2011), the global farm income gain has been $98.2 billion;
  • Of the total farm income benefit, 49 per cent ($48 billion) has been due to yield gains resulting from lower pest and weed pressure and improved genetics, with the balance arising from reductions in the cost of production;
  • The insect resistant (IR) technology used in cotton and corn has consistently delivered yield gains from reduced pest damage. The average yield gains over the 1996-2011 period across all users of this technology has been +10.1 per cent for insect resistant corn and +15.8 per cent for insect resistant cotton;
  • Fifty-one per cent of the 2011 farm income gains went to farmers in developing countries, 90 per cent of which are resource poor and small farms. Cumulatively (1996-2011), about half of the benefit each went to farmers in developing and developed countries;
  • The cost farmers paid for accessing crop biotechnology in 2011 was equal to 21 per cent of the total technology gains;
  • For farmers in developing countries the total cost of accessing the technology in 2011 was equal to 14 per cent of total technology gains;
  • Between 1996 and 2011, crop biotechnology was responsible for an additional:
    • 110 million tonnes of soybeans;
    • 195 million tonnes of corn;
    • 15.8 million tonnes of cotton lint; and,
    •  6.6 million tonnes of canola.
  • If crop biotechnology had not been available to the (16.7 million) farmers using the technology in 2011, maintaining global production levels at the 2011 levels would have required additional plantings of 5.4 million ha of soybeans, 6.6 million ha of corn, 3.3 million ha of cotton and 0.2 million ha of canola;
  • Crop biotechnology has contributed to significantly reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices. In 2011, this was equivalent to removing 23 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing 10.2 million cars from the road for one year;
  • Crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying (1996-2011) by 474 million kg (-9 per cent). As a result, this has decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on the area planted to biotech crops by 18.1%(3);
  • The environmental gains from the GM IR traits have mostly derived from decreased use of insecticides, whilst the gains from GM HT traits have come from a combination of use of more environmentally benign products and facilitation of changes in farming systems away from conventional to reduced and no tillage production systems in both North and South America. This change in production system has reduced levels of GHG emissions from reduced tractor fuel use and additional soil carbon storage.


Joint Statement on Innovative Agricultural Production Technologies, particularly Plant Biotechnologies

13 April 2013

Source: US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS)

 Recognizing that agricultural production needs to substantially increase to meet global food, feed, fiber and energy demands in the face of population growth,

Understanding that innovative agricultural technologies need to continue to play a critical role in addressing these challenges, in contributing to increased food production in a sustainable way, and in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change,

Taking into account the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21, which acknowledges that an increase in productivity will need to take place.

Emphasizing that regulatory approaches related to products derived from innovative agricultural technologies should be science-based, transparent, timely, no more trade restrictive than necessary to fulfill legitimate objectives, and consistent with relevant international obligations, including the WTO agreements on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and on Technical Barriers to Trade.

Our governments intend to work collaboratively to:

Promote the application of science-based, transparent and predictable regulatory approaches that foster innovation and ensure a safe and reliable global food supply, including the cultivation and use of agricultural products derived from innovative technologies;

Allow for the trade of such products, and minimize or remove unjustified barriers to trade where they exist;

Promote constructive dialogue on science based regulation and use of innovative agricultural technologies and;

With respect to plant biotechnology specifically:

  • Promote the utilization of and the development of regulations consistent with Codex Alimentarius Commission Principles for the Risk Analysis of Foods Derived from Modern Biotechnology and the Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Plants and its annexes;
  • Encourage research and education efforts necessary to develop agricultural innovations that lead to new products and strategies that address the global challenges for production of abundant, safe and affordable food, feed, fiber, and energy in the 21st century;
  • Noting the importance of timely and efficient regulatory systems, endeavor to work together to promote synchronization of authorizations by regulatory authorities, in particular for food, feed and processing purposes;
  • Encourage biotechnology developers to submit timely dossiers to regulatory authorities to minimize asynchronous and asymmetric authorizations;
  • Collaborate in the development of domestic, regional and international approaches to facilitate the global management of low level presence of recombinant-DNA plant material, authorized in one or more countries, but not in the country of import;
  • Work cooperatively in international standard-setting bodies and in other international fora on issues related to plant biotechnology;
  • Support science-based assessments of food, feed and environmental safety;
  • Encourage the timely sharing of information including using global databases to house public information on product authorizations.

 Supporting Governments:

Republic of Argentina Republic of Paraguay United States


Source: The Land – 05/04/2013

IN SPITE of a perception that plantings of genetically modified (GM) canola have stagnated at around 11 per cent of the national canola crop, Monsanto Australia managing director Daniel Kruithoff is confident the company can increase its market share to 30pc of the plant into the future.

GM plantings were at around 176,000ha last year, or 11pc of the national crop, and expectations are that this figure will remain relatively static this year, with many farmers preferring other, conventional, herbicide tolerant varieties.

However, Mr Kruithoff said he was positive that the increases in acreage being seen in WA would also begin to occur in Victoria and NSW as new varieties hit the market.

“It takes time and because of the moratorium on production, Roundup Ready (RR) varieties were behind, but we’re catching up and the new varieties available are exciting,” Mr Kruithoff said.

Mr Kruithoff said Monsanto understood the Australian market would not be like Canada, where over 90pc of the crop was GM, but added there were specific fits.

“It really depends on your location and your weed spectrum, we’re starting to see hot spots around the country where there’s really good uptake of this system,” he said.

Mr Kruithoff also said ability to deliver the product at harvest had an influence, with farmers in some areas not having a bulk handling terminal accepting GM nearby.

However, with more sites accepting GM, it will be easier to deliver the product.

His comments were backed up by Corowa, NSW, agronomist Andrew Bell, who said there were two new sites opened up in his local area in the southern Riverina and north-east Victoria last year, reflecting an increasing acreage of GM crop.

Mr Bell said the primary factor behind growers in his area using RR canola was to control resistant weeds with glyphosate in rotation with paraquat.

Mr Kruithoff said in spite of the other herbicide resistant options, such as triazine tolerant (TT) and Clearfield canola varieties, the GM lines could be useful, in particular when growers had group A and B chemical resistance weeds.

“That’s the difference between here and Canada, where RR was really the only option,” he said.

He said given feedback from the seed companies regarding new, agronomically improved varieties, he felt 30pc of the market was realistic.

“We’d expect growers to rotate their chemical groups with canola, using TT, RR and Clearfield lines,” Mr Kruithoff said.

But while he said new varieties to be released over the next couple of years would increase uptake, Mr Kruithoff said the real game-changer could be research into next generation traits.

“We’ve had some good research work, at a proof of concept level, into a double-stacked gene that would combine both RR and TT traits, which, from feedback from growers, is something they would really value.”

The other big innovation could come in terms of time of spraying.

One of the major gripes with current RR varieties is that spraying can only be done up to six-leaf stage, which does not give growers scope to control late ryegrass germinations.

Mr Kruithoff said work was being done to try to extend the application window.

“It’s the same story as with cotton, when we first introduced RR cotton there was a limited application window, and that is now increased,” he said.

The product was priced realistically, Mr Kruithoff said, in spite of technology fees to use the seed, which pushed per kilogram costs of GM seed above other lines.

“We think we have pricing at the right level, but we’ll wait and see – growers will vote with their wallets.”

At the other end of the production cycle, he said premiums for non-GM canola were coming back in.

“It’s probably back at around $10/t now, which is a lot less than what it was, so that also helps bring RR into the equation at sowing time.”