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

Seed/BiotechWater Optimized Seed Flowing Freely
April 1, 2014
As the demand for ag to diminish its water use while maintaining high yields and crop quality increases, three companies are leading the movement to grow more with less water. Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer Applies For Seed Treatment That Protects Against Sudden Death Syndrome
February 26, 2014
If approved, ILeVO seed treatment would be the first product to provide breakthrough protection for soybean seedlings from the soil borne pathogen Fusarium virguliforme, the fungus that causes SDS. Read More
Seed/BiotechSeed Still Central
November 1, 2013
Advancing genetics continue to make seed the crop variable that calls the shots for the season. Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience, Northstar Agri Industries Launch New Canola Hybrid
October 16, 2013
Northstar Agri Industries and Bayer CropScience have announced the addition of the InVigor L252 hybrid to the Northstar Star Growers High Oil Contract. Read More

Trending Articles

EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More
EquipmentGPS: 25 Years And Still Growing
June 2, 2014
The evolution of global positioning systems applications in agriculture remains ongoing as the technology hits a notable milestone. Read More
CropLife 10013 Key Acquisitions Pinnacle Has Made In The First Half Of 2014
May 29, 2014
The only thing that has reached a more frenzied pace than #plant14 might be the multiple acquisitions that Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has made in the first half of the year. Read More

Latest News

EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
July 17, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
A finished Willmar 16-ton side-shooting tender.
TendersNew Production Facility Helps Willmar
July 17, 2014
In 1963, a group of businessmen started Willmar. Today, a half-century later, the company is one of the ag industry’s longest-running brands. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Sells Carbon Credits To Chevrolet, Donate…
July 17, 2014
CF Industries has completed the sale of a large block of carbon reduction credits to Chevrolet, and will donate the net proceeds of $600,000 to the National FFA Foundation. Read More
CropLife 100Grainland Cooperative, Minier Cooperative Grain To Merg…
July 17, 2014
The shareholders of Grainland Cooperative and Minier Cooperative Grain Co. approved a merger of company operations effective August 1, 2014. Read More
ManagementStudy: Drought Costing California Billions
July 17, 2014
A new study has found the drought has cost the state $2.2 billion, primarily in lost farm revenue and wages. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Resumes Production At Oklahoma Nitrogen C…
July 17, 2014
The company had shut down production at the Woodward, OK, facility in April to address an issue in one of the site’s boilers. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denve…
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybe…
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Drive To Thrive 10 Finalists Announced
July 15, 2014
Finalists are chosen based on the quality of their essays and photos depicting what makes them thrive. Read More
FertilizerHow To Minimize Phosphorus Losses In Runoff
July 15, 2014
Phosphorus losses from agricultural fields can be divided into three categories: flash losses of soluble phosphorus, slow leak losses and erosion events. Here's how to minimize losses in each instance. Read More
ManagementCalifornia Drought Threatens To Dry Up Farm Wells
July 15, 2014
Farmers hit hardest by California's drought could begin to see wells run dry next year, according to a new study by The Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis. Read More
Precision AgPoll: Do you plan to attend this year’s InfoAg Co…
July 14, 2014
This year’s InfoAg Conference is just two weeks away. The premier event in precision agriculture takes place July 29-31 at Read More
LegislationFarm Bill Implementation Continues
July 14, 2014
The bill provides $28 billion over the next five years for conservation on private lands while streamlining several old programs and creating new ones like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Continues Expansion Of Atmore Facility
July 14, 2014
The company has improved its molten sulphur unloading system to help meet increased sulphur demand at Tiger-Sul’s Atmore, AL, facility. Read More