Farmers worldwide continue to enthusiastically embrace genetically engineered (GE) crops, with 309 million acres planted in biotech worldwide in 2008 compared to 282 million in 2007.

That’s according to a report released by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) entitled “The Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2008.” Find it at www.isaaa.org.

The report says a record 13.3 million farmers in 25 countries are using ag biotechnology today (compared to 12 million in 2007); 90% (12.3 million) of these are resource-poor farmers in 15 developing countries.

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, executive vice president, Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to the report's findings: "The ISAAA report further illustrates what we have known all along, that biotechnology is a key component contributing to sustainable agriculture. Ag biotech provides solutions for today's farmers in the form of plants that yield more per acre, resist diseases and insect pests and reduce farmers' production costs, and inputs.”

More than 154 million acres of biotech crops were planted in the U.S. in 2008, up from 143 million in 2007, with the primary crops being: corn, cotton, canola and soybeans, but also squash, papaya, alfalfa and sugar beets.

"At a time when the United States and the world are looking for science-based solutions to help feed a growing population, agricultural biotechnology is able to deliver heartier crops that produce more food, often in areas with less-than-perfect growing conditions,” Lauritsen says.

"Ag biotechnology also has environmental benefits because biotech crop varieties require less cultivation and fewer pesticide applications, thereby saving fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the air. This also improves soil health and water retention.”