STUDY: The Value of Plant Science Innovations to Canadians

By GMOAnswers Admin • March 14, 2016

The following is an excerpt of CropLife Canada's commissioned study by RIAS Inc. to help quantify the benefits pesticides and biotech crops deliver to the environment, the economy and communities across Canada. The results of this study demonstrate that there are many benefits. These tools help farmers be more productive on existing farmland, which leaves natural habitats in place and protects biodiversity. They help farmers protect the soil, reduce fuel use and limit greenhouse gas emissions. Pesticides and plant biotechnology help farmers grow more crops, which helps drive the economy and create jobs. They also help keep food costs affordable and ensure Canadian families have year-round access to healthy foods. 

Executive Summary

This report examines the economic, environmental and social benefits and value that the plant science innovations deliver to Canadians. Plant science innovations include both pest control products and products of modern plant breeding that together are used to support and advance sustainable agriculture through crop production improvement.

Crop and food production is essential to Canada’s economy and to Canadians’ well-being. And the plant science sector in Canada plays a key role, generating a significant number of jobs and income for Canadians, helping to ensure an abundant food supply in Canada and for export markets, and enhancing Canadians’ access to fresh, locally produced food across the country. Plant science has also played a critical role in improving sustainable agricultural practices, by way of reducing the amount of tillage, soil erosion, land-use, and green house gas emissions, as well as improving biodiversity and preserving large tracts of forest, native grass and wetlands.

Providing Healthy, Affordable Food to Canadians

Plant science innovations lead to direct savings on the food Canadians eat, and help to ensure that we have a reliable source of affordable, good quality fresh fruit, vegetables and grains that are important to a healthy diet. Without plant science innovations, Canadians could pay about 55% more for their food. On an annual basis, it is estimated that the average Canadian household saves more than $4,400 on their food bill, for a total of over $60 billion in savings on food expenditures for all Canadians each year.

Increasing Agricultural Output and Incomes for Farmers

Growing crops is a major job and wealth producer in Canada. In the crop production sector, plant science innovations generate over 111,000 jobs and $8.3 billion in additional agricultural output in Canada. This increased output from plant science innovations also accounts for 71% of Canada’s positive trade balance in crops.

The key is the additional yields and quality attained by farmers, accounting for over $7.1 billion in the value farmers receive for their field crops; approximately $353 million in the value of fruit crops; $434 million in potatoes and $435 million in other vegetable crops. Overall, the increased agricultural output from plant science innovations generates more than $7.5 billion in GDP for Canada, which is comprised of $4 billion in added value by Canadian farmers, and $3.5 billion in added value from increased business for suppliers to Canadian farmers. 

Check out the full text of the report here.

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Posted on May 4, 2018
There would be more public seed development if genome editing technologies like CRISPR are not regulated as GMOs. Single point mutations are an extension of the undirected mutation breeding that is commonly used now. Having genome editing regulated like conventional plant breeding would allow university plant breeders to use the technology to develop new varieties without the stigmatism of them being GMOs. As for would it allow for more start-up seed companies, this is more doubtful. It is... Read More
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