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India Fourth in GM Crop Area in the World
Feb 08, 2015

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), India has the fourth largest area planted under Genetically Modified (GM) crops, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

  • Farmers in India planted a total 11.6 million hectares (mh) under transgenics in 2014, behind the corresponding areas for Argentina (24.3 mh), Brazil (42.2 mh) and the US (73.1 mh).

  • The GM crop acreage in India far surpassed China’s 3.9 mh, while equalling that of Canada’s 11.6 mh.

  • ISAAA has estimated the total global area under GM crops to have touched 181.5 mh last year, up from 175.2 mh in 2013.

  • Since 1996, when farmers first commercially planted transgenics, the area under these crops has risen more than hundredfold from 1.7 mh to 181.5 mh.

  • Significantly, the entire 11.57 mh GM crop area in India last year consisted of Bt cotton. Nearly 96 per cent of the country’s cotton area is now covered by Bt hybrids.

  • Bt technology has helped India to treble its cotton output from 13 million bales in 2002 (when it was introduced) to 40 million bales in 2014.

  • While India’s GM crop acreage is wholly dominated by Bt cotton—much of it based on the US life sciences giant Monsanto’s proprietary Bollgard technology—this is not the case with other major countries.

  • For example, the US’s 73.1 mh GM crop area covered by maize (34.5 mh), soyabean (32.3 mh), cotton (4.3 mh), canola (685,000 hectares), sugar beet (479,000 hectares), and the rest by alfalfa, squash and papaya. Brazil’s 42.2 mh included 29.1 mh, 12.5 mh and 0.6 mh under soyabean, maize and cotton respectively.

  • China had only 3.9 mh of GM planted area last year—almost fully under Bt cotton. But its government has allowed commercial cultivation of seven other crops—papaya, maize, rice, poplar, tomato, sweet pepper and petunia.

Unlike India, where Monsanto enjoys a near monopoly, China’s GM crops have been developed largely by public sector research bodies such as the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (Bt cotton), Huazhong Agricultural University (rice and tomato), Beijing University (tomato and sweet pepper) and Research Institute of Forestry (poplar).

China has sought to actively promote public-private-partnerships (PPP) in GM crop technology. For example, CAAS has licenced its internally developed Bt gene and transgenic phytase maize (which boosts phosphorous absorption by pigs, leading to faster animal growth and higher meat yields) technologies to Origin Agritech, a Beijing-based and US NASDAQ-listed seed company.


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