Biotechnology

Benefits

With over a decade of use on more than one billion acres worldwide, plant biotechnology delivers proven economic and environmental benefits, a solid record of safe use and promising products for our future. Broadly based research, often conducted by government agencies and academic researchers, has documented these benefits:

  • A study released by the United States National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP) reported that biotech crops continue to be planted on more acres in the US because they deliver significant economic and environmental benefits for US farmers. Read the complete NCFAP study here.

  • A new peer-reviewed study by UK based economists Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot, quantifies the cumulative economic and environmental impacts of biotech crops grown during the past eleven years (1996-2006). Key findings report that in addition to increasing global production of corn, cotton and canola, GM crops have reduced global impacts from pesticides by over 15%, made a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices, and have significantly increased farmer incomes in every country in which GM crops are grown. Read the complete 2008 study here.

  • Agricultural biotechnology in Argentina has given the country a $20 billion profit.

The Future Benefits of Plant Biotechnology

Over the next decade, the industry's global plant biotechnology research and development pipeline will produce products that offer direct benefits to:

Consumers, such as enhanced nutrition, convenience and taste. Examples include:

  • Tomatoes that are enriched with lycopene, an antioxidant believed to help protect against heart disease and cancer.

  • Rice enriched with beta-carotene, which stimulates production of vitamin A. Yearly, vitamin A deficiency causes blindness in 500,000 children and up to two million deaths.

  • Cooking oils that contain higher levels of vitamin E and lower levels of trans-fatty acids, which raise cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease. Vitamin E is believed to improve the body's immune system, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer.

  • Lettuce fortified with reservatrol, the compound found in red grapes that acts to lower levels of "bad" cholesterol and raise levels of "good" cholesterol.

Farmers and the environment, such as improved drought tolerance, saline tolerance, and increased yields - facilitating the conservation of natural areas. Examples include:

  • Oranges resistant to citrus canker are being developed in Florida.

  • Disease-resistant bananas are being developed in Africa.

  • Drought-resistant varieties of maize, soybeans, wheat and other crops are being developed in North America.

Monsanto is Developing a New Generation of Benefits

Monsanto's plant biotech crop research is aimed at providing solutions in four key areas: yield improvement and stress tolerance, agronomic pest resistance traits, food improvement traits, and improved animal feed and processing traits. Monsanto invests more than $500 million annually to identify and develop new solutions for growers and look for ways to keep farmers at the forefront of a competitive global market.

  • Monsanto is working on a trait that could elevate soybean yield by increasing plant photosynthesis. By increasing a plant's photosynthesis capability, we can improve crop vigor and performance, and boost grain yield and quality.

  • Monsanto is advancing a class of genes that protect plants from severe water deprivation - conditions where non-transgenic plants are unable to grow and develop normally. By increasing the plants' ability to manage water stress and continue developing, we can improve grain yields and expand crop production into more arid acres.

Monsanto is researching an oilseed crop that could produce a vegetable oil enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 enriched oil could ultimately provide consumers with a new tool to protect against heart disease. While this research is several years away from regulatory consideration, it represents a good example of the potential of plant biotech.