A look at the neglected ‘1%’ of biotech crops that slashed chemical use and boosted yields

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A farmer in Bangladesh shows off his genetically modified, pest-resistant Bt brinjal (eggplant), which Indian farmers are not allowed to grow. (Photo courtesy of the Cornell Alliance for Science, photographer: Arif Hossain)

Last year on SAIFood we discussed the benefits of the four major genetically modified (GM) crops, canola, corn, cotton and soybeans, yet less attention has been given to smaller acre GM crop production. It isn’t surprising why most of the attention regarding GM crops is focused on the four leading crops as they account for 99% of the global GM crop acreage. However, the remaining 1% has significant benefits. This sliver of the GM pie is represented by a wide variety of crops, including apples, eggplants, papayas, pineapples, potatos, squash and sugar beets.

Traditional eggplant producers [in Bangladesh]…. have reported spraying their crop up [to] 100 times per growing season. Even with the high levels of pesticide application, farmers can still experience 30-60% harvest losses from insects. A comparison of Bt and non-Bt eggplant farmers found that Bt eggplant farmers reported no pesticide application for fruit and shoot borers (FBS). While those farmers with non-Bt farmers reported up to 100 FBS pesticide applications.

Related article:  'Science diplomacy': What the Cold War can teach Africa about battling hunger with GM crops

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While the hundreds of millions of acres of large-scale GM crops provide millions in benefits, the benefits of small scale GM crop production are not insignificant. Small-scale GM crops reduce chemical use, resulting in lower input costs, higher profits for farmers, and less food waste. Even though they are smaller in production scale, these GM crops have had big benefits for agriculture.

Read full, original article: Small Acre GM Crop Production can have Big Benefits

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