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25 Years of GMOs

Please note - a new report from PG Economics has been updated to reflect the latest data on the environmental and economic benefits of GMOs around the world. The information below was accurate as of 2020, as it marked the 25th anniversary of the planting of GM crops. 


It’s been 25 years since biotech crops first came to market. Since then, they’ve been a valuable tool for farmers, helped tackle food insecurity and climate change, and had a positive effect on many communities around the world.

Since they were first planted, GM crops have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34 billion kilograms through the practice of no-till farming. That’s equivalent to more than an entire year’s worth of industrial and car emissions in the United States!

But, biotech isn’t just great for the environment. Leaps in plant science innovation over the past 25 years have been instrumental in improving food security around the world.

This is because biotechnology helps maintain and increase crop yields, despite pest and disease pressures and unpredictable weather. Since 1996, farmers have been able to grow an additional 498 million tonnes of maize. To grow that same amount of crops without biotech seed, farmers would have needed to convert an additional 24.2 million hectares of land – such as forests and biodiverse spaces.

With food security a major issue for millions of people around the world, the higher yields enabled by this agricultural innovation are a crucial part of the solution.

Biotech has also helped to deliver a whole range of other societal benefits. Since the introduction of GM crops in the 90s, female farmers around the world have realized an extra 96.2 billion US dollars of income, which helps families and communities around the globe.

Significant progress has been made in technology over the past quarter-century, from cell phones and broadband to satellites and GPS systems. In the last 25 years, GM crops are one tool that has helped consumers, farmers, and rural communities, while providing environmental sustainability and increasing food security. Plant biotechnology has been the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of agriculture, which speaks to its innovation, value, and benefits.

Learn more about the benefits of GMOs below:

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Click here to download the full collection of infographics as a PDF.