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16 Oct 2012


Agriculture & Food
Innovation & Enterprise


Producing more with less: how biotech crops can help

Brussels, 16 October 2012

Today, on the occasion of the World Food Day, EuropaBio is highlighting the critical role of agricultural technology in improving food security worldwide, in particular by enabling farmers to increase sustainably global food production by 70 percent by 2050 to meet food demand.

In a Wall Street Journal article published on 6 September 2012, Mr. da Silva, FAO’s director-general and Mr. Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) called for more private investment in agricultural technologies in order to keep on top of “severe droughts, rising grain prices and food shortages”. The two international organisations also encourage a more efficient use of resources in agriculture. Speaking at a press conference in Rome on 9 October 2012, Mr. Carlos Seré, Chief Development Strategist at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) called for a greater emphasis on “smart agricultural growth”, one that is based on an “inclusive growth model that encourages sustainable intensification”.

Innovations in plant biotechnology have proven effective in improving farm yields per acre. Globally, biotech crops have led to an additional 276 million tons of food and fibre since being introduced in 1996. Without access to this technology, farmers would have had to plant 91 million more hectares to maintain yields. If more genetically-modified (GM) crops were grown in Europe today, the increase in production could be equal to the output from land the size of Belgium every year. Figures show that between 1996 and 2010, the use of GM crops in Brazil ensured the conservation of 16.2bn litres of water, enough for 368,000 people to use, along with 134.6m litres of diesel, enough to power 56,000 vehicles, and reduced CO2 emissions, by 357,000 tonnes, saving 2.6m trees.

By enabling farmers to apply innovations to better safeguard their crops from pests, global production of essential staples such as rice, maize and wheat has more than doubled since 1960, while land under cultivation has remained stagnant. However, as the global population continues to rise and approach 9 billion by 2050, food production will need to increase, to as much as 100 per cent in the developing world. This means that more pressure will be put on farmers and lands unless we make use of all tools currently available and other promising new biotech varieties that are being developed. This is key if the world is to make enough, safe, affordable and quality food for all. Currently, more than 90% of farmers planting GM crops in the world are small growers in developing countries.

Making the best of our existing farmlands, reducing water and energy use while increasing food production is the difficult equation farmers in Europe and all over the world are facing. In the US where drought has affected this summer major agricultural lands, a new drought-tolerant maize is now available, enabling farmers to produce more food per drop of water. This is a concrete illustration of how biotech crops can help farmers cope with global climate and demographic changes.

“In the next 40 years, we will need to produce more food than we have in the past 10,000 years combined,” says Mr. du Marchie Sarvaas, EuropaBio’s director for Agricultural Biotechnology. “Despite the challenges posed by population growth, changing diets and climate change, food security can be achieved in our lifetime. On World Food Day, we encourage governments in Europe to consider biotech innovations as an important element to reach this goal”, he added.

Additional Resources:

FAO: World Food Day 2012

Céleres: The Social-Environmental Benefits from Crop Biotechnology in Brazil: 1996/97 - 2009/10

For further information, please contact:

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas

Director, Green Biotechnology Europe


Tel: +32 2 739 11 85

Mobile: +32 473 890 359


Nilsy Desaint

Communications Manager, Green Biotechnology Europe


Tel: +32 2 739 11 62

Mobile: +32 473 334 875


About EuropaBio:

EuropaBio is the European Association for Bioindustries, bringing together bioscience companies from all fields of research and development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology products. It has 56 corporate members, 14 associate members and Bio Regions and 19 National Biotechnology Associations- representing some 1800 small and medium sized enterprises across Europe.


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