A: The amount of global farmland devoted to biotech crops in 2004.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (الزراعية). Despite its complicated name, this non-profit group performs a very simple job each January when it publishes the number of acres planted with biotech crops the previous year.

بئر, maybe it’s not such a simple job because it involves so much counting. The figure for 2004 هو 200 مليون فدان–أي بزيادة قدرها 20 بالمئة من 2003, وأكثر من 5 percent of the world’s total cropland.

مرة أخرى, it’s possible to say that more farmers planted more biotech crops on more acres than ever before last year. لكن بعد ذلك, that’s hardly headline news any more. It’s been possible to say that ever since biotech crops hit the commercial market a decade ago. نعم, 2005 marks another milestone – the 10th consecutive year that biotech crops have been planted commercially.

Here are a few other interesting facts from the ISAAA report:

• Since 1996, farmers around the world have planted 951 مليون فدان من المحاصيل المعدلة وراثيا. For those keeping score at home, that’s more than 26 times the size of Iowa. It also means that somewhere this year – Crop Year 2005 – a farmer somewhere in the world will plant the biotech acre no. 1 مليار. That’s billion, with a “B”!

• Last year, أكثر 8 ملايين المزارعين زراعة المحاصيل المعدلة وراثيا في 17 البلدان, which is up from 7 ملايين المزارعين في 2003. حول 90 percent of these farmers are considered “resource poor.”

• For the first time ever, developing countries outpaced the industrialized world in absolute growththeir biotech crop area increased by nearly 18 مليون فدان, compared to a little more than 15 million acres elsewhere.

• There are now 14 biotech “mega-countries,” up from 10 عام الماضي, as Mexico, باراجواي, الفلبين, and Spain joined the ranks of nations growing at least 50,000 هكتار (a.k.a. 123,553 فدان) للمحاصيل المعدلة وراثيا. Their addition “reflects a more balanced and stabilized participation of a broader group of countries adopting biotech crops,” confirms the ISAAA.

• The United States continues to dominate agricultural biotechnology, المحاسبة عن 59 في المائة من المساحة المزروعة في مجال التكنولوجيا الحيوية في العالم. Next in line is Argentina (20 في المائة), تليها كندا (6 في المائة), البرازيل (6 في المائة), والصين (5 في المائة). India remains one of the lesser mega-countries, but its 400 percent rate of growth in 2004 suggests that it’s ready to surge forward.

These are solid accomplishmentsand there will be more of them in the years ahead. Predicting the future is a tricky business, but the ISAAA is willing to hazard an educated guess: It believes that in five years as many as 15 ملايين المزارعين في 30 countries will plant 371 مليون فدان من المحاصيل المعدلة وراثيا. (That’s more than 10 times the size of Iowa!)

على المدى الطويل, we’ll see a lot of growth in parts of the world that haven’t yet fully embraced agricultural biotechnology. الصين والهند, the world’s two most populous countries, still have large rural populations and incredible room for growth. So does Brazil (where rates of biotech adoption are probably under-reported at the moment). And on the entire continent of Africa, home to well over 800 مليون نسمة, only South Africa is a biotech-growing country.

Soybeans currently dominate the world’s biotech acreage, المحاسبة لحول 60 percent of what’s grown. They’re followed by the two other members of the biotech triumvirate–الذرة (23 percent of the global biotech acreage) والقطن (11 في المائة). These crops will remain growth areas for a while, though at some point relatively soon we will see other plants enter the biotech fold. Breeding an enhanced biotech crop that’s ready for commercial planting takes years of research and supervised testing as well as millions of dollars. These costs are bound to drop, and when they do we may see virtually every kind of fruit and vegetable improved by biotechnology.

Q: When will the biotech revolution be complete?

A: The day I can grow kiwi fruit in the Iowa snow.

تيم باراك يثير الذرة وفول الصويا بالشراكة مع الشقيقة في المزرعة العائلية آيوا NE. تيم هو عضو مجلس إدارة لجنة تقصي الحقائق حول التجارة والتكنولوجيا (www.truthabouttrade.org) مجموعة الدعوة شعبية وطنية مقرها في دي موين, IA تشكل، ويقودها المزارعين دعما لحرية التجارة والتكنولوجيا الأحيائية.