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Brazil presents growth in the adoption of transgenics

Brazil cultivated 44.2 million hectares (ha) of transgenic crops in 2015, a growth of 5% over 2014 or the equivalent of two million hectares. No other country in the world has grown so dramatically. With this area, Brazilian agriculture is behind only the United States (70.9 million ha) in the world ranking of adoption of agricultural biotechnology. Next are Argentina (24.5 mi / ha), India (11.6 mi / ha), Canada (11.0 mi / ha) and China (3.7 mi / ha). Around the world, 28 countries planted 179.7 million hectares of genetically modified (GM) varieties. The information is from the report of the International Service for Acquisition of Applications in Agrobiotechnology (ISAAA), released worldwide on Wednesday (13). According to the founder and emeritus director of ISAAA, Clive James, more and more farmers are planting GMOs because they are a rigorously tested technology whose effectiveness has already been proven.

In Brazil, the intense adoption of this technology in the field reflects the confidence that the producers place in it. At the other end of the chain, in 2015, the National Technical Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) also approved a record number of new products applicable to agriculture. There were 14 transgenic plants expressing characteristics that will help soybean, corn and cotton farmers to manage cropping challenges and obtain better yields due to reduced losses. Adriana Brondani, the executive director of the Biotechnology Information Council (CIB), outlines the factors that contributed to this performance. "The competitiveness of Brazilian agribusiness is a result of a strong synergy between the needs of the field, adoption of agricultural biotechnology and scientific criteria in biosafety assessments," he says. Among the approvals, it is worth mentioning the world's first transgenic eucalyptus, released commercially in April last year.

After 20 years of cultivation in the world (the first plantations occurred in 1996), GMOs have become the most rapidly adopted agricultural technology in the recent history of agriculture. Adriana Brondani comments that in Brazil, there are already 17 years of use of this technology. "Throughout this period of use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), there is not a single scientific study that has concluded that they cause harm to human, animal or environmental health," he says. In Brazil, the average adoption rate for the three GM crops already available is 91%. In the case of soybean, 94% of the area was planted with transgenic varieties, for corn (winter and summer crops) the rate was 84%. The highlight of 2015, however, was cotton, whose adoption dropped from 66% in 2014 to 73% this year.

The high adoption rates (between 90% and 100%) in the world's largest agricultural biotechnology markets suggest that there will be little room for growth in the coming years. This will imply the emergence of new players, like Asian and African countries. For Adriana Brondani, however, this scenario represents an opportunity for Brazil. "Among the countries where biotechnology is most present, Brazil is the only one that can expand area without advancing on preservation areas, through the recovery of degraded areas," he explains.

 

Other highlights of the ISAAA global report on GM varieties:

 

• Developed countries X developing countries

 

For the fourth consecutive year, developing countries have adopted more transgenic crops (54%, or 97.1 mi / ha) than industrialized countries (46%, or 82.6 million ha / ha). In addition, of the 28 nations that use biotechnology, 20 are developing countries.

 

• Small x medium and large farmers

 

Of the approximately 18 million farmers worldwide who already adopt agricultural biotechnology, 90% are small farmers. "Continued adoption in developing countries proves transgendering benefits everyone," says Clive James.

 

• Multiple Features

 

Transgenics with more than one characteristic, also called pyramids, were planted in 58.5 million ha, 33% of all cultivated area with GMOs in the world (increase of 14% between 2014 and 2015).

 

• U.S

 

Global leader in the adoption of transgenics, the country is also the one that more approves GM crops with new characteristics. Potato (with 4 characteristics), apple (not darkened when cut) and salmon (the first transgenic animal approved for human consumption in the world, which grows faster than conventional fish) stood out in 2015.

 

• India

 

By 2015, the country became the world's largest cotton producer. In that year, 95% of the cultivated area was composed of transgenic seeds.

 

• Future

 

Several biosafety assessment bodies worldwide are analyzing GMOs with characteristics such as improved nutritional composition and tolerance to drought, saline soils and flooding. In the US, the area planted with drought tolerant maize, the world's prime crop, increased 15-fold between 2013 and 2015.

 

Source: ISAAA 2016