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Innovation Fact of the Week: Global Biotech Crop Production Has Generated Over $130B in Economic Benefits for Farmers

GM Soy

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Between 1996 and 2013, farmers around the world who have adopted biotech crops have increased their incomes by a total of $133.4 billion. Two main factors explain how biotech crops increase farmers’ income. First, pest-resistant plants reduce the need for pesticides, which produces cost savings. Second, disease-resistant crops provide greater yields, thereby giving farmers more product to sell.

Farmers clearly understand the economic benefit of adopting biotech crops. In 2013, the three most commonly grown biotech crops—corn, cotton, and soybeans—covered more than 200 million hectares of land globally, or slightly more than half of the arable land used to grow all varieties of these crops.

Farmers in the developing world have earned more than half of the global economic benefit that biotech crops have generated since the mid-1990s (close to $70 billion), even though developed countries were the first adopters. Given the positive economic benefits, governments should do more to spur research and development of new biotech crop varieties.

For more on this issue, including recommendations for international policymakers, see ITIF’s recent report, “Suppressing Growth: How GMO Opposition Hurts Developing Nations.”

Read last week’s Innovation Fact of the Week

Photo Credit: United Soybean Board via Flickr

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About the author

John Wu is an economic research assistant at ITIF His research interests include green technologies, labor economics, and time use. He graduated from the College of Wooster with a bachelor of arts in economics and sociology, with a minor in environmental studies.