Global pesticides use down as biotech crop adoption rises, study shows
MANILA, Philippines–Crop biotechnology has significantly reduced the amount of chemical pesticide spraying worldwide by 474 million kilograms, or 9 percent, over the past 15 years, according to a report by PG Economics, a UK-based advisory and consultancy services provider specializing on plant biotechnology, agricultural production systems, agricultural markets and policy.
The reduction is equivalent to the total amount of pesticide active ingredient applied to arable land in member countries of the European Union over a period of one-and-a-half crop years, the report noted.
“As a result, this has decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on the area planted to biotech crops by 18.1 percent,” the PG Economics report said.
Modern agriculture biotechnology has allowed the development of crop varieties with built-in resistance to traditional pests. Due to their natural ability to fight pests, such crop varieties no longer require the massive application of chemical pesticides.
The report also pointed out that “crop biotechnology has contributed to significantly reducing the release of greenhouse emissions from agricultural practices.”
“This is due to the reduced use of fuel and additional soil carbon storage from reduced tillage with biotech crop varieties,” it said. “In 2011, this was equivalent to removing 23 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing 10.2 million cars from the road for one year.”
Since 1996, the total amount of harvested biotech crops has topped four billion acres or 1.6 billion hectares or an area 1.5 times the size of Europe or nearly as big as South America.
The PG Economics annual global impact report quantifies the effects of agricultural biotechnology on the environment and on farmer incomes since the commercialization of biotech crop varieties in 1996.
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