The biotech industry claims that the global area devoted to GM crops in 2005 was 90 million hectares - or 222 million acres. ETC Group does not endorse or agree with the validity of annual statistics on GM crops compiled by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).
We agree with civil society critics who charge that ISAAA's statistics are inflated and unreliable. However, even using industry-generated statistics, the biotech countdown is revealing. Here are the vital statistics:
5 transnational corporations control virtually all of the biotech market. Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow are the "Gene Giants" - the five seed and agrochemical companies that dominate ag biotech.
4 industrial crop commodities. GM soybeans (60% of global GM area), maize (24% of global GM area) cotton (11% of total GM area), canola (5% of total GM area) accounted for virtually 100% of the commercial GM crop market in 2005.
3 countries - the geographic spread. In 2005, USA, Argentina and Brazil accounted for 85% of the total worldwide area devoted to GM crops. 95% of all GM crops were grown in five countries: USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and China.
2 genetic traits. The first decade of GM crops has delivered two genetic traits: crops engineered to tolerate chemical weed killers, and crops engineered to express insecticidal genes. Seventy percent of the area devoted to GM crops in 2005 was engineered for a single trait: herbicide tolerance; the rest was B.t. insect resistance, or some combination of the two traits stacked together.
1 company dominates. Control of GM crops is overwhelming dominated by one multinational seed corporation. Monsanto's GM seeds and genetic traits accounted for 88% of the total area devoted to GM crops in 2005.
Note: this doesn't mean that Monsanto sold 88% of the world's biotech seeds, it means that Monsanto's seeds or genetic traits, including those licensed to other seed companies, accounted for 88% of the global area planted in GM seeds. This figure is based on statistics released by Monsanto on 11 Oct. 2006.
Source: ETC Group