More genetically-engineered crops are to be expected in the United States, a new report from the US Department of Agriculture said.
The reports cites the number of field releases for testing GE varieties approved by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a press release from Science Philippines said.
As of September 2013, about 7,800 releases were approved for GE corn, more than 2,200 for GE soybeans, more than 1,100 for GE cotton and about 900 for GE potatoes.
Field releases were approved for GE varieties with tolerance for insects and herbicides, product quality such as flavor or nutrition, agronomic properties like drought resistance and virus and fungal resistance, the press release said.
After successful field testing, deregulation allows seed companies to commercialize the seeds that they have developed.
APHIS had approved 98 our of 145 petitions for deregulation after having determined that the GE plant is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk, the press release also said.
In addition to corn, cotton and soybeans, APHIS approved petitions for deregulation for GE varieties of tomatoes, rapeseed/canola, potatoes, sugarbeets, papaya, rice, squash, alfalfa, plum, rose, tobacco, flax and chicory.
In the absence of pests, commercially available GE seeds do not increase maximum crop yields, the USDA report said.
However, by protecting a plant from certain pests, GE crops can prevent yield losses to pests, allowing the plant to approach its yield potential, the press release said.
Bt corn is a type of genetically modified crop which has been genetically altered by adding a small amount of genetic material, in this case from a naturally occurring soil bacterium – Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt – which is toxic to the corn borer, the press release said.
Most experimental field tests and farm surveys show that Bt crops produce higher average yields than conventional crops.
Date from the USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey show that Bt corn yields were 17 bushels per acre higher than conventional corn yields in 2005 and about 26 bushels higher in 2010 (an acre is about half a hectare).
USDA researchers found that a 10 percent increase in the rate of Bt corn adoption was associated with a 1.7 percent increase in yields in 2005 and a 2.3 percent increase in yields in 2010.
Researchers also found that a 10 percent increase in the adoption of Bt cotton in 1997 was associated with a 2.1 percent increase in yields, the press release also said.*
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