Worldwide Commercial Growing
GM Crops were first grown on a large scale in 1996 when US farmers started to grow Monsanto's Roundup Ready soya.
The Italian Department of Environment and the Genetic Rights Foundation publish the Biosafety Scanner where you can find out which GM crops are authorised for cultivation or for use in food and feed in countries around the world.
In many countries, particularly in Europe, an authorisation does not necessarily mean that GM crops are actually being grown or used in food. To find out more visit the GM Crops and Foods in Britain and Europe section on this website.
Each year the ISAAA produces a briefing giving details of the commercial growing of GM crops globally - these figures are used extensively by media and industry. A table produced from these figures can be found at the bottom of this page. Criticisms have been made about these reports because;
- Many figures for the the areas of a GM crop grown are reliant on personal communication or the source is simply not referenced.
- ISAAA explicitly supports the commercial growing of GM crops and statistics are used only to highlight the uptake of GM crops by farmers and countries.
- Relatively few countries grow GM crops, with most of the global area being in the USA, Argentina, Brazil and Canada. China and India grow mainly GM cotton, not food crops.
- Media reports and science journals include many stories of new crops that can been produced using genetic modification. However, the range of traits available commercially remains relatively small and dominated by herbicide tolerance and insect resistance traits.
Bt = insect resistant using a toxin from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis
- Ht = tolerant to at least one of the following herbicides. Glyphosate (Roundup) or Glufosinate ammonium (Liberty).
Ht-Bt = crops with stacked traits of both Bt insect resistance and herbicide tolerance.
- VR = virus resistant.
- Press articles
- Nature: GM crop planting declines for the first time (19th April 2016)
- New York Times: Acreage for Genetically Modified Crops Declined in 2015 (13th April 2016)
- InterAksyon: FIRST IN THE WORLD: Supreme Court bans development of genetically engineered products (13th December 2015)
- EnviroNews Nigeria: Why GMOs are not solution to food production (18th February 2015)
- Minnesota Farm Guide: Conventional soybean seed has a bigger place in 2014 (5th May 2014)
- Agriland: Number of countries growing GM crops declining, new report claims (4th May 2014)
- The Western Producer: Asian GM crop acres small but growing (28th February 2014)
- Business Standard: GM's success stories are overdone (5th April 2013)
- Reuters: Record area of biotech crops used in 2012 - report (19th February 2013)
- The Hindu: Business Line: 'Emulate Brazil, China, not Europe' (17th February 2012)
- External links
- Friends of the Earth Africa: Who will feed Africans? Small-scale farmers and agroecology not corporations! (January 2017)
- ISAAA: ISAAA Brief 51-2015: Executive Summary (13th April 2016)
- ISAAA: GM Approval Database
Worldwide industry database of GM crops with regulatory approval.
Convention on Biological Diversity: Biosafety Clearing House
Includes laws and regulations on GMOs and copies of risk assessments for approved GM crops in countries which are parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Note: The USA and Canada are major GM crop producers which are not Parties to the CPB. Not all Parties are fully compliant (i.e. some information may be missing).
- USDA: Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States (February 2014)
- ISAAA Brief 46-2013: Executive Summary Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2013 (13th February 2014)
- USDA: Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.
- Genetic Rights Foundation: Biosafety Scanner
You can find out more about the types of crops currently being grown commercially in the Commercial GM Crops section of this website.
Table 1: Area of Commercial GM Crops by Country (2015)
|Country||Cultivation area (Hectares)||Crops and traits|
|USA||70.9 million||maize, soybean, cotton, canola, sugarbeet, alfalfa, papaya, squash, potato|
|Brazil||44.2 million||soybean, maize, cotton|
|Argentina||24.5 million||soybean, maize, cotton|
|Canada||11.0 million||canola, maize, soybean, sugarbeet|
|China||3.7 million||cotton, papaya, poplar|
|Paraguay||3.6 million||soybean, maize, cotton|
|South Africa||2.3 million||maize, soybean, cotton|
|Uruguay||1.4 million||soybean, maize|
|Australia||0.7 million||cotton, canola|
|Chile||<0.1||maize, soybean, canola|
|Costa Rica||<0.1||cotton, soybean|
Total: 179.7 million hectares