Biotech Popularity Growing

Food and fuel prices are soaring and growers are scrambling to meet demand. A Reuters news article points out that for makers of biotech crops, that adds up to a bright future.

Debate over the risk and benefits of biotech crops, which use genes from other plants and other organisms to effect special traits, still rages in many nations, according to Reuters.

But from the U.S. Midwest, where growers this spring will seed new fields full of transgenic soybeans and corn, to the other side of the world where Chinese growers are growing genetically altered cotton and other crops, biotech agriculture appears to be taking root, says Reuters.

“It’s my judgment that the ag biotech industry has a huge head of steam,” says Charles Benbrook, former executive director of the Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences and a critic of biotech crops. “They are prevailing in wearing down the opposition.”

The good times are rolling for U.S.-based Monsanto Co, a world leader in manipulating plant DNA to make crops resistant to weedkillers and insect pests. The company’s surging sales pushed its stock up 150 percent over the last year as growers stocked up on the company’s seeds and chemicals, according to Reuters.

Corporate giants such as Syngenta, DuPont Co, Bayer CropScience, BASF, and Dow Chemical Co are also expanding their reach around the world, promoting technology they say can better help feed people and livestock, create alternative fuels, and put more money in growers’ hands.

Naysayers dispute that the tech giants are doing anything more than deepening a base of chemical-friendly crops that help boost sales of herbicides. The majority of the biotech crops commercialized today are engineered to tolerate dousings of herbicide to help growers kill weeds easier.

But biotech backers say the proof is in the bottom line, Reuters says. Acreage planted to the many different biotech crops is expanding around the world as prices for food and fuel rise rapidly and demand for corn, soybeans, and other crops increases in Asia, Latin America, and other growing economies.

“It is being recognized that biotechnology is important,” says Paul Schickler, president of DuPont agricultural unit Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

Reuters points out the biotech progress of several countries:

China is a key area of expansion. Both DuPont and BASF have formed alliances there to accelerate transgenic crop research in corn, beans, and rice. China has already embraced biotech cotton: an estimated 7 million Chinese farmers planted seeds last year that are engineered to resist certain insects.

Like many other nations, China has been slow to embrace biotech crops as food. Indeed, the country has been a key world supplier of non-GMO soy and corn. But biotech rice varieties, with strains resistant to pests and diseases, are in line for approval.

India , which likewise has seen rapid adoption of biotech cotton, is also targeted for growth, though it still has not embraced biotech crops for food.

Last month, South Korea did cross that line by making its first purchase of genetically modified corn for food. Premiums for conventional, non-GMO U.S. corn have trebled from $10 to $15 a tonne a year ago and drove South Korea to the switch.

Latin America is also seen as a growing opportunity for biotech crop promoters. Brazil last month gave clearance for two new varieties of GMO corn to be used for food, and scientists are testing GMO sugar cane. Argentina, already a big producer of biotech soybeans, recently approved a new GMO corn.

Still, there are many who believe biotech crops do more to fatten corporate earnings and investor bank accounts than help growers or the environment. They cite increased use of chemicals, creation of “superweeds,” and potential health problems among the concerns.

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Thunder Seed Grower and dealer
Seed/BiotechSeed Decisions: Balancing Price And Performance
November 1, 2016
Even a cursory glance at headlines covering the seed industry these days could move a reader to an “OMG!” moment. Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsIncotec Invests In North America
October 25, 2016
Leading seed enhancement company Incotec, part of Croda, has announced an investment in their North America business. The total investment of Read More
Nufarm Seed Treatment lab formulations
Seed/BiotechNew Lab, Company Realignment Strengthen Nufarm’s Position To Serve Seed Treatment Market
October 6, 2016
As part of its “One Nufarm” strategy, Nufarm is realigning and uniting resources to further enhance the focus on its Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer, West Central Distribution Introduce Fungicde Seed Treatment For Soybeans
October 6, 2016
Bayer and West Central Distribution are introducing a new combination fungicide treatment for soybean plants, Redigo 480 + Trilex, to Read More
Trending Articles
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
STS16 2017
SprayersHagie Manufacturing Releases 2017 STS16 Sprayer To Market
November 16, 2016
Hagie Manufacturing LLC’s largest full season applicator is now available with enhancements for the 2017 model year. Hagie is officially Read More
Wilco
CropLife 100Valley Agronomics, Wilco-Winfield To Form New Agronomy Joint Venture
November 11, 2016
Valley Agronomics LLC, headquartered in Rupert, ID, is a joint venture between Valley Wide Cooperative and Winfield Solutions, LLC. Wilco-Winfield, Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute Issues Statement On The U.S. Elections
November 10, 2016
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn has issued the following statement on the results of the 2016 elections: “TFI Read More
Latest News
Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s…
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbia…
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research has announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More
Young soybean field
HerbicidesLiquid Formulation Valor EZ Herbicide Available For 201…
December 1, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has released Valor EZ; a liquid formulation of the company’s leading herbicide, Valor. Named Valor EZ Herbicide Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
ManagementThe Value Of Cooperatives In Modern Agriculture
December 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: Jaxon Mullinnix of  Lone Tree, IA, was recently named the Iowa state winner of the 2017 GROWMARK essay Read More
AGCO Operator of the Year Tony Kornder
SprayersAGCO Names Tony Kornder Operator Of The Year
December 1, 2016
AGCO Corp. names Tony Kornder with Genesis Growing Solutions in Le Sueur, MN, the 11th annual Operator of the Year. Read More
Chris Henney OABA
ManagementOABA Industry Conference To Provide Outlook For Future …
November 29, 2016
The upcoming Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference is packed with widely-respected speakers and industry professionals, sharing their expertise on a Read More
Corn
InsecticidesMajor Review Finds Neonic Poses Low Risk To Aquatic Inv…
November 28, 2016
A major new ecotoxicological review and risk assessment has been published in the peer-reviewed literature and concluded that registered crop Read More
EquipmentGSI Details New Grain Drying Efficiency System for Coop…
November 28, 2016
Grain elevators and ag co-ops are always looking for ways to increase their energy efficiency to help improve profitability. For Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
AGCO AgControl system
Precision AgPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
November 28, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
ARA
Eric SfiligojTaking The Industry’s Pulse At ARA
November 28, 2016
When most of you read this particular column, many of the industry’s key folks will probably be spending at least Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls …
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
FertilizerNutrient Management, Conservation Among Topics Covered …
November 23, 2016
Certified crop advisers, consultants, farmers, agribusiness professionals and students will learn more about nutrient management, soil and water conservation, pest Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsa…
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More