April 16, 2009

An April 14 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, "Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops," was quickly countered this week by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). In the report, the union questions biotechnology’s ability to increase crop yields and claimed that successes to date have not been the result of genetic engineering.

Responding to the report, Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, executive vice president of BIO, said, "It’s absurd to deny biotechnology’s contribution, among other factors, to increased crop production. Since the introduction of agricultural biotechnology in 1996, we have seen double-digit growth in corn and soybean yields."

Referencing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s "2009 Annual Summary Crop Production Report," she noted that 80% of the nation’s corn acreage is planted with biotech varieties, and yields have increased 36% since 1995, the last year before biotech varieties were commercially planted, and with about 92% of the U.S. soybean acreage now planted with biotech varieties, yields have increased 12% since 1995.

Acres planted to biotech crops in the U.S. have been steadily rising each year, with 309 million acres planted in 2008.

"At a time when the U.S. and the world are looking for science-based solutions to help meet the demands of a growing population, agricultural biotechnology is able to deliver heartier crops that yield more per acre in a more environmentally and economically sustainable way. The biotechnology industry is committed to providing solutions to enlist in that effort," Lauritsen said.