A thorough overview of the global status of biotech (or GM) crops is published every year by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (James, 2008).
The most updated information can be found in the executive summary report ―Global status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2008‖ (James, 2008). Please find hereby a short summary below. A new ISAAA report is expected in spring 2010.
1996 is generally seen as the starting date for the large-scale commercial application of biotech crops. Since then, the technology has spread rapidly around the world, both in industrialized and developing countries (James, 2008):
- The number of countries electing to grow biotech crops has increased steadily from 6 in 1996, the first year of commercialization, to 18 in 2003 and 25 countries in 2008 on 125 million ha, comprising 15 developing countries and 10 industrial countries.
- For 2008, the top eight countries growing more than 1 million ha were, indecreasing order of hectarage: USA (62.5 million hectares), Argentina (21.0), Brazil (15.8), India (7.6), Canada (7.6), China (3.8), Paraguay (2.7), and South Africa (1.8 million hectares).
- Global hectarage of biotech crops continued its strong growth in 2008 for the thirteenth consecutive year – a 9.4%, or 10.7 million hectare increase, reaching 125 million hectares.
- The 74-fold hectare increase since 1996 makes biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology.
- In 2008, GM crops were being grown on 9% of the global arable land.
- In 2008, 13.3 million farmers cultivated biotech crops in 25 countries. Notably, 90%, or 12.3 million were small and resource-poor farmers in developing countries. Most were Bt cotton farmers: 7.1 million in China (Bt cotton), 5.0 million in India (Bt cotton), 0.2 million in the Philippines (biotech maize), South Africa 2 (biotech cotton, maize and soybeans often grown by subsistence women farmers) and the other eight developing countries which grew biotech crops in 2008.