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Corn+Soybean Digest

U.S. Farmers Continue to Favor Biotech Crops

American farmers have adopted genetically modified (GMO) crops widely since their introduction in 1996 because of the tangible benefits that biotech hybrids and varieties deliver.

According to the USDA, U.S. farmers have embraced biotech crops of soybeans, cotton and corn at the rate of 91%, 88% and 85%, respectively. This is because agricultural biotechnology allows farmers to grow more food on less land using farming practices that are more cost effective and environmentally sustainable.

Despite these convincing statistics, the report, Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use in the United States: The First Thirteen Years, claims "farmers are increasingly critical of GMO crops."

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, executive vice president, food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response:

"There's no doubt that farmers continue to embrace biotechnology because of the benefits these products deliver, specifically crops that yield more per acre with lower production costs while using farming practices that better protect the land and environment.

"This is especially true for American farmers, four out of five of whom choose biotech crop varieties over conventional crops that require more production inputs such as sprays to control insect pests and tilling to control weeds.

"Thanks to biotechnology, farmers have adopted no- and reduced-tillage systems which utilize herbicidal weed control rather than plowing. This is delivering important benefits in the form of improved soil health and water retention, reduced runoff, fuel conservation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and more efficient carbon storage in the soil.

"In 2007, the fuel savings alone was equivalent to removing 31.2 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing nearly 6.3 million cars from the road for one year.

"Furthermore, biotech crop varieties have dramatically reduced farmers' reliance on pesticide applications. Since 1997, the use of pesticides on global biotech crop acreage has been reduced by 790 million pounds, an 8.8% reduction.

"Decades of documented evidence demonstrates that agricultural biotechnology is a safe and beneficial technology that contributes to both environmental and economic sustainability. Many experts agree that agricultural biotechnology has an important role to play in helping to feed and fuel a growing world. In the future, biotechnology's benefits will only improve."

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