Farm Progress

Six ways biotech crops have helped reduce agriculture's environmental footprint.

April 12, 2013

1 Min Read

Since their commercial introduction almost 20 years ago, biotech crops have helped significantly reduce agriculture's environmental footprint.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications's (ISAAA) February 2013 report on the global status of biotech crops identified specific ways that biotech crops have mitigated and adapted to climate change, and also conserved land:

1. 1.9 billion kilograms of reduced carbon dioxide emissions in 2011 due to biotech crops that didn't require fossil fuel-based insecticides and herbicides.

2. 21.1 billion kilograms of carbon sequestered in the soil because of herbicide-tolerant biotech crops, which enable little to no tilling (plowing) of fields.

3. 473 million kilogram reduction in pesticides applied from 1996 to 2011 because of insect-resistant biotech crops. 

4. 8.5 per cent overall reduction in pesticide application due to biotech crops in 2011 alone.

5. 108.7 million hectares of richly biodiverse land preserved between 1996 and 2011 because high-yielding biotech crops allowed for increased production on existing land.

6. 328 million tons of additional food, feed and fiber produced by biotech crops from 1996 to 2011, preventing the conversion of more land into arable fields.

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