GENET archive


PLANTS: Modified crops help reduce greenhouse gases

                                  PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Study: Modified crops help reduce greenhouse gases
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA
AUTHOR: Rachel Mercer
DATE:   09.03.2007

Study: Modified crops help reduce greenhouse gases

The global use of genetically modified crops, which allows farmers to
plant using less herbicide and without tilling the soil, is
significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study.

In 2005, the impact in reduced carbon dioxide emissions was the
equivalent of removing nearly 4 million average family cars from the
road, said the study by Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot of PG Economics
Ltd., a British consulting firm. The study was commissioned by Monsanto
Co. of Creve Coeur, the world's leading provider of biotech crops, and
published in the peer-reviewed journal AgBioForum.

Genetically modified, or GM, soybeans, corn, cotton and canola were
planted on 215 million acres by 8.5 million farmers in 2005, the study
said. These crops ward off certain pests and withstand applications of
glyphosate herbicide, a weed killer that is less environmentally
damaging than other chemicals.

The biggest environmental benefit of these crops, according to the
study, comes when they are used to enable no-till farming. Growers who
use that technique don't plow the ground; they plant through the organic
material left from a prior crop.

Plowing allows naturally occurring carbon dioxide to escape into the
air, contributing to greenhouse gas buildup.

Farmers in North and South America rapidly have adopted no-till farming
in conjunction with GM crops, the study found. In 2005, this practice
left in the ground 2.9 million kilograms of soil carbon that would have
been released through plowing -- an amount equal to the emissions of 3.6
million cars.

"No-till farming is nothing new. Farmers have been trying (it) for many
years," Brookes said. But the approach doesn't work well with
conventional crops, leading many growers to abandon it.

Further carbon dioxide savings come from reduced use of fossil-fuel-
burning farm vehicles. The reduction includes the use of plow equipment,
as well as vehicles used to spray pesticides needed on conventional crops.

Since their introduction in 1996, GM crops have saved farmers 441
million gallons of fuel, which led to a 4.6 billion kilogram reduction
in carbon dioxide emissions, the study said.

Vic Miller, chairman of the U.S. Grains Council, to which Monsanto and
other biotech seed companies belong, said he's impressed with the
results. He's been using GM crops on his 3,600-acre Iowa corn and
soybean farm since 1996.

"It's put more money on my bottom line, year after year. And it's
allowed me to reduce chemical and pesticide use in my operation," he
said. "I'm one of the first environmentalists, because I have to live
there. I drink the water and walk on the soil, and I don't appreciate
having to use products that have the skull and crossbones on them."

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                                  PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Biotech crops help world's farmers "go green"
SOURCE: U.S. Grains Council, USA
AUTHOR: Press Release
DATE:   08.03.2007


Study by UK Economist Documents Major Reductions in Greenhouse Gas
Emissions, Fuel and Pesticide Use as Biotech Crops Facilitate Shift to
Conservation Tillage

WASHINGTON (March 8, 2007) - Biotech crops have produced a decade of
improvements in yield and net farm income for grain, oilseed and cotton
farmers. Now, according to a peerreviewed study on the crops' global
economic and environmental impact, the benefits are "clear" - especially
reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2005, herbicide-tolerant biotech crops planted using conservation
tillage practices helped to retain carbon in the soil. Insect-resistant
crops dramatically reduced the need for spraying, while also
significantly reducing farm fuel usage. All told, biotech crops, planted
during their 10th year of use on 87 million hectares (215 million acres)
by 8.5 million farmers, reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 9 billion
kg. (8.9 million tons). That's the equivalent to removing nearly 4
million family cars from the road for an entire year, according to study
author Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics Limited of Dorchester,
United Kingdom.

Biotech Crops and the Green Era

"Simply put, biotech crops have changed the way people farm," Brookes
said. "Their environmental performance during the first decade of use
shows the important role the technology is playing both now and in the
future in helping global agriculture reduce its greenhouse gas emissions."

According to Brookes, countries such as the United States, Canada and
Argentina have led the way toward these environmental benefits by
utilizing herbicide-tolerant crops to switch to no- and low-till crop
production. There and elsewhere, insect-resistant biotech crops also
have reduced sprayings. It all adds up to less tillage and reduced field
operations, he said.

Brookes' study estimates that since their commercialization in 1996,
biotech crops have saved farmers 1,679 million liters (441 million
gallons) of fuel through reduced field operations - eliminating 4,613
million kg. of carbon dioxide emissions.

Disturbing the soil with conventional tillage releases carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere. No- and low-tillage cropping systems that use
biotech herbicide-tolerant varieties, Brookes said, leave more plant
residue on the soil's surface, sequestering the carbon and contributing
to soil and water conservation.

In Argentina alone, the study estimates that herbicide-tolerant
varieties helped to increase no-till soybean plantings by 157 percent,
from 5.9 million hectares in 1996 to 15.2 million hectares in 2005 --
reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20,988 million kg.

Worldwide, use of biotech crops decreased the environmental impact of
crop production associated with pesticide use by more than 15 percent as
calculated using Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) methodology,
according to the study.

Since 1996, herbicide tolerant and insect-resistant biotech crops
reduced pesticide sprayings by 224 million kg. (500 million pounds) of
active ingredient - a 6.9 percent reduction worldwide. That reduction is
equivalent to about 35 percent of the annual volume of active ingredient
applied to arable crops in the European Union.

$5 Billion Benefit to 2005 Net Farm Income

According to Brookes' estimates, biotech crops contributed $5 billion in
net farm-level economic benefit to farmers - or $5.6 billion if the
additional income arising from a second crop of soybean in Argentina is

Combining biotech insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant traits in corn
has boosted farm income by more than $3.1 billion since the traits'
introductions, Brookes noted. The largest gains in farm income have come
from biotech soybean and largely from cost savings. In 2005, herbicide-
tolerant soybean generated $2.84 billion additional income - adding
about 7 percent to the value of the crop in biotech soybean growing countries.

Brookes summarized that the economic and environmental benefits of
biotech crops are fairly evenly divided between farmers in developed and
developing countries. In 2005, farmers in developing countries captured
55 percent of the additional net farm income generated by biotech crops
globally. Over the 1996-2005 period, farmers in developing countries
accrued 48 percent of the environmental benefits, primarily from reduced
crop protection product usage. The study's documentation of biotech
crops' increased productivity and reduced environmental impact comes at
a good time. "We are constantly being asked if North America can produce
enough corn to meet food, fuel and export needs," said U.S. Grains
Council Chairman Vic Miller, an Iowa corn producer. "The answer is yes,
especially with the help of biotechnology. This study goes a long way
toward documenting the production increases achieved with biotech crops.
And greater yields mean more corn for ethanol, which -- unlike fossil
fuels -- removes carbon dioxide from the air each time a new corn plant
sprouts. Reduced environmental impact through biotech crop use is
becoming an important selling point as we communicate with our grain
trading partners."

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-
Biotech Applications (ISAAA), more than half of the world's arable land
(776 million hectares/1.9 billion acres) lies in 22 countries now
approved for planting biotech crops. By 2015, ISAAA forecasts biotech
crops will be under cultivation in 40 countries with at least 20 million
farmers planting 200 million acres annually.

"Projecting forward, the environmental gains made possible with biotech
crops have the potential to compound quite dramatically as the
technology is available to more farmers worldwide. These are
environmental benefits that if overlooked in the past will not be in the
future," Brookes concluded.

Brookes' study, GM Crops: The First 10 Years - Global Socio-economic and
Environmental Impacts, was commissioned by Monsanto and was published in
the Jan. 17, 2007 issue of AgBioFourm, a peer-reviewed journal on
economics and biotechnology. The complete study is available on the U.S.
Grains Council website,, and the ISAAA website,

PG Economics Limited is a specialist provider of advisory and
consultancy services to agriculture and other naturalresource-based
industries. Based in Dorchester, United Kingdom, its specializations are
plant biotechnology, agricultural production systems, agricultural
markets and policy. The company's clients come from both the public and
private sector and include the United Kingdom, the European Commission,
food manufacturers and leading global agricultural input suppliers.

The U.S. Grains Council is a private, non-profit partnership of
producers and agribusinesses committed to building and expanding
international markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain sorghum and their
products. The Council is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 10
international offices that oversee programs in more than 50 countries.
Financial support from our private industry members, including state
checkoffs, agribusinesses, state entities and others, triggers federal
matching funds from the USDA resulting in a combined program value of
more than $25 million.

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