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European Union

In 2008 of the 27 EU countries 7 officially grew biotech maize commercially. The 7 EU countries from largest to smallest in biotech maize ha are Spain, Czech Republic, Romania, Portugal, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia. These 7 countries grew 107,719 hectares of biotech maize in 2008 up from 88,673 hectares in 2007.

Spain is the only country in the EU to produce a substantial amount of biotech crops. Spain has been producing biotech maize since 1998 when it planted around 22,000 ha of biotech maize. In 2008 biotech maize hit an all time high in Spain of 79,269 ha of the total maize area of 358,500.

Spain is estimated to have enhanced farm income from biotech maize by US$60 million in the period 1998 to 2007 and the benefits for 2007 alone were estimated at US$21 million (Brookes and Barfoot, 2009)

The Czech Republic approved biotech maize for commercialization for the first time in 2005 when it grew 150 hectares of biotech maize. In 2008 the Czech Republic increased is biotech maize hectarage to 8,380 hectares of the total maize area of 288,000 hectares.

Romania successfully grew over 100,000 ha of biotech soybean up until January 2007 when it became part of the European Union. Under the EU biotech soybean is not approved for commercial use, and therefore Romania had to discontinue planting biotech soybean much to the dismay of farmers and consumers. To make up for the short fall of soybean Romania will have to import soybean which is most likely to be biotech soybean the very same product banned from production by the EU. Romania then decided to plant biotech maize for the first time in 2007 planting 350 ha which increased in 2008 to 7,146 ha. Romania is the largest producer of maize in Europe at 2.5 million ha in 2008 with France being the second at 1.6 million ha.

A study by PG Economics estimated the yield benefits Romania experienced when planting biotech soybean were significant at an average yield increase of 31% in some cases as high as 50%. Romania is estimated to have enhanced farm income from biotech soybean by US$93 million in the period 2001 to 2006 the benefits for 2006 alone is estimated at US$29 million. (Brookes and Barfoot, 2008)

Germany started commercially planting biotech maize in 2000 on approximately 500 ha in 2007 the area was 2,685 ha in 2008 the area increased by 18% to 3,173. Commercial planting of biotech maize is under threat due to resent bans. If Germany were to increase its biotech maize production to the total area of maize planted (55,000 ha) it would increase its gains by about US$8.25 million a year.

Poland started commercially planting biotech maize in 2007 on 327 ha, due to a positive experience by farmers this area increased over 8-fold in 2008 to 3,000 ha of biotech maize. One Bt yellow maize is being used in Poland for animal feed and for ethanol production.

Portugal recommenced planting biotech maize again in 2005 after a five year gap after initially planting approximately 1,000 ha in1999. Portugal planted 4,851 ha of biotech maize in 2008 a 14% increase from 2007.

Slovakia started commercially planting biotech maize in 2006 0n 30 ha in 2007 this area increased to 900 ha. In 2008 the total area of maize planted was around 236,000 of which 1,900 ha were biotech maize equivalent to a 111% increase from previous years.

It is becoming more and more imperative that the EU and the rest of Europe pay more attention to the benefits of biotech crops due to the current economic crisis, escalating food prices, climate change and a growing population this is one technology that cannot be ignored.



In 2010, Australia grew 653,000 hectares of biotech crops, comprising 520,000 hectares of biotech cotton, (up from 190,000 hectares in 2009), and 133,000 hectares of biotech canola (up more than three- fold from the 41,200 hectares in 2009).
The increase between 2009 and 2010 was 184% making it the biggest proportional increase in any country in the world in 2010. A remarkable 98.5% of all the cotton grown in Australia in 2010 was biotech and over 91% of it featured the stacked genes for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance.
The total biotech crop hectarage in 2010 represents almost a 14-fold increase over the 48,000 hectares of biotech crops in 2007 during which Australia suffered a very severe drought which continued in 2008 and to a lesser degree in 2009 when the country was still recovering from the multi-year drought which is the worst on record in Australia. Enhanced farm income from biotech crops is estimated at US$262 million for the period 1996 to 2009 and the benefits for 2009 alone at US$38 million.

South Africa

South Africa is considered the leader in crop biotechnology in Africa and has been commercially growing biotech crops since 1998. South Africa is ranked number eight in the world in terms of total biotech crop area with a total biotech crop area of 1.813 million ha in 2008, almost a 30% increase over the 1.4 million ha in 2006.

Biotech maize, cotton and soybean are grown in South Africa and their adoption rate has increased every single year since the first plantings in 1998. The total area of biotech maize in 2008 was 1.617 million ha, which is 62% of total maize area this is a 5% increase from 2007. The total area of white maize was 1.6 million ha of which 56% was biotech maize. The total area of yellow maize was 1 million ha of which 72% was biotech maize. Of the total area of biotech maize, 64% was Bt maize, 17% was herbicide tolerant maize and 19% stacked trait maize.
In 2008 the total area of soybean planted was 230, 000 ha of which 184,000 ha or 80% was biotech soybean.
In 2008 the total area of cotton planted was13, 000 ha of which 12,000 or 92% was biotech cotton. Of the total area of biotech cotton 83% was of staked trait cotton 9% was herbicide tolerant cotton and 8% was Bt cotton.

South African farm income from biotech crops in 2007 is estimated at US$227 million. This is a significant benefit to both small-scale and commercial farmers who have put their trust and confidence in biotech crops.
South Africa plays an extremely important role in the biotech sector in Africa as it has the experience of planting biotech crops for over 10 years. It is vital for South Africa to continue participating in technology transfer programs with the rest of Africa and the world.


In 2008 Canada lost its fourth place ranking to India in terms of total area of biotech crops and is now at fifth place globally. Despite this Canada still manage a 9% year-over-year growth rate and planted a total of 7.6 million ha of biotech crops. Canada is another member of the six “founder biotech crop counties”, having commercialized herbicide tolerant canola in 1996.

Canada has four biotech crops canola, maize, soybean and recently commercialized in 2008 sugar beet. The largest of these being herbicide tolerant canola, which amounted to 5.5 million ha of the total canola area of 6.4 million ha in 2008. This shows an increase of 8% growth rate from 2007. The total area of maize planted in 2008 was 1, 2 million ha of which 1,190,000 ha was biotech maize. The total area of soybean planted in 2008 was 1.2 million ha of which 880,000 ha was biotech soybean.

Except for USA, Canada is to only other country to grow a triple stack variety of maize with one gene for European corn borer, a second for root worm control and a third for herbicide tolerance. Of the biotech maize in Canada in 2008, 68% had single genes, 27% had 2 stacked genes and 5% had triple stacked genes

Canada is estimated to have enhanced farm income from biotech crops by US$2 billion in the period 1996 to 2007 and the benefits for 2007 alone were about US$0.5 billion (Brookes and Barfoot, 2009)


On March 24 2008, Egypt became the first country in the Arab world to commercialize biotech crops, by planting 700 ha of biotech yellow maize hybrid which was developed by crossing Bt maize (MON 810) with the maize variety Ajeeb to produce the new biotech Bt yellow maize hybrid AjeebYG. This biotech maize is resistant to three maize insect pest borers (Massoud, 2005).

Only 3% of Egypt’s 100 million ha land area is devoted to agriculture making it one of the world’s lowest levels of cultivable land per capita. This makes Egypt dependent on imports for about half of its food supply. The agriculture sector does however contribute about 20% to their GDP and provides about 50% of their employment.

Egypt’s main crops are rice, wheat, sugarcane and maize. Egypt produces about 6.1 million tons of maize (mostly yellow maize) and imports 4, 5 million tons of yellow maize valued at about US$1.3 billion. Field trials of Bt yellow maize have indicated a yield increase of up to 30% over conventional yellow hybrid maize. Egypt will soon be able to reduce the amount of maize imports by increasing its production of biotech maize.


In 2010, the USA continued to be the largest producer of biotech crops in the world with a global market of 45% and gained US$4.5 billion in farm income. In 2010, the USA planted a record hectarage of 66.8 million hectares of biotech maize, soybean, cotton, canola, sugarbeets, alfalfa, papaya and squash, up from the 64.0 million hectares in 2009 and equivalent to a year-on-year growth rate of 4.4%.
The increase in biotech crop hectarage of 2.8 million hectarage between 2009 and 2010 was the second largest, after Brazil, for any country in the world. The USA also leads the way in the deployment of stacked traits in maize and cotton which offer farmers multiple and significant benefits. In 2010, the USA benefited from a third season of commercializing biotech RRsugarbeets which again occupied ~450,000 hectares equivalent to a 95% adoption, in only its fourth year of commercialization; this makes RRsugarbeets the fastest ever adopted biotech crop. When this Brief went to press, the legal situation regarding the production of seed for 2010 was still uncertain.
The adoption rates for the principal biotech crops in the USA for soybean, maize, cotton, canola and sugarbeets are close to optimal and further significant increases will be achieved only through stacking of multiple traits in the same crop or introduction of new biotech crops and/or traits. A US study on the economic benefits of Bt maize reported that area-wide suppression of the European Corn Borer pest in both Bt maize and non-Bt maize crops resulted in a gain for farmers of US$6.9 billion over the 14 year period 1996 to 2009. Importantly, the indirect benefit associated with non-Bt maize (US$4.3 billion) was 62 percent, greater than the direct benefit of US$2.6 billion from planting Bt maize.

Burkina Faso

In 2008 the government through the evaluation of the National Bio-Security Agency of Burkina Faso approved two varieties of Bt cotton for seed production and commercialization. Approximately 8,500 ha of Bt cotton were planted for seed production and initial commercialization for the first time in Burkina Faso. In 2009 approximately 160,000 ha of Bt cotton will be planted equivalent to one third of total cotton production in Burkina Faso. This is a significant increase from 2008 and will act as a model for many other developing countries growing cotton

The National Agricultural Research Institute (INERA) has been field testing Bt cotton since 2003 with tremendous results. Bt cotton requires only two insecticide applications compared with 6-8 for conventional cotton. Insecticide use amounts to about 30% of total growing costs of cotton. Bt cotton provides about 75% saving in insecticide and labour. Bt cotton generally provides a 30% higher yield than conventional cotton. This results in a more competitive product for the international cotton market and higher profits for small-scale and resource-poor farmers,

In a recent study by Vitale et al 2008 the economic impacts of second generation Bt cotton would generate an estimated US$106 million per year for Burkina Faso based on a yield increase of only 20% and a decreased use of insecticides. In another study by Falck-Zepeda et al 2008 concluded that “Bt technology needs to be adopted, if only to catch up with major cotton producing countries in the rest of the world. Under the assumptions of the model, all the study countries are worse off economically by not adopting Bt cotton”

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