Market for GM Crops May Hit $25 Billion by 2010-ISAAA

March 10, 2000

The global market for genetically modified (GM) crops may soar to $25 billion by 2010 from an estimated $3 billion this year, a non-profit organisation tracking developments on biotechnology in agriculture said on Friday.

"The number of countries growing transgenic crops has increased from one in 1992, to six in 1996, to nine in 1998 and to 12 in 1999," Clive James, director of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), said in a study.

The study said GM crops now have higher adoption rates because they offer more convenient and flexible crop management, higher productivity and a safer environment through decreased use of conventional pesticides.

A copy of the study was given to participants at a forum on global food security in Manila on Friday.

ISAAA is a non-profit organisation funded by public and private groups whose aim is to facilitate the transfer of biotechnology in agriculture from industrialised to developing countries.

James said total area planted to GM crops worldwide ballooned to 39.9 million hectares last year from 1.7 million in 1996.

As a result, global sales from transgenic crops rose to an estimated $2.1 billion to $2.3 billion last year from $235 million in 1996.

US, Canada, Argentina Lead GM Crop Plantings

The United States accounted for 72 percent of global area planted to genetically altered crops last year with 28.7 million hectares, followed by Argentina with 6.7 million hectares and Canada with four million hectares.

Some 300,000 hectares of land in China were also planted with such crops and 100,000 hectares each in Australia and South Africa. GM crops were also grown in Mexico, Spain, France, Portugal, Romania and Ukraine.

Genetically altered soybean and corn accounted for 54 percent and 28 percent respectively, of total planted areas worldwide, James said. Other GM crops grown last year included cotton, canola/rapeseed, potato, squash and papaya.

James said he expected areas planted with GM crops to expand modestly in Latin America, with Brazil possibly making commercial plantings for the first time "subject to regulatory approval and market demand."

But he predicted strong growth elsewhere.

"China is expected to expand its transgenic crop area aggressively, with growth and diversification continuing in South Africa, Australia and the Eastern European countries that have already commercialised transgenics," he said.

India also has genetically modified crops that are ready for commercial planting, James said. He did not say when he expected India to start planting GM crops.

"The major issues that will modulate adoption in the year 2000 will be public acceptance-which drives market demand-and regulation," he said.

"These two issues and labelling of foods derived from genetically modified plants will continue to be dominant factors that will impact on commercial planting of transgenic crops and consumption of genetically derived foods in countries of the European Union."

Use of GM foods is widely accepted in the United States, but has encountered strong resistance in parts of Europe.


Return to the home page of Better Foods