There have been a good number of studies on GM crops in different countries of the world. The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) has been contributing to the information circulation. The most recent study by Graham and Peter (2018) on Farm income and production impacts of using GM crop technology 1992-2016 has opened up many issues on socio-economic conditions of adoption of GM crops. According to them the net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to 18.2 billion in 2016 and 186.1 billion for the period   1996 to 2016 has been accrued. Out of these gains, 48% is to the farmers in developed countries while 52% is to those of the developing countries (among five top Brazil, Argentina, and India). It is also reported that 65% of the gains is to the yield and the rest 35% is from cost savings.  There has been a considerable benefit only in maize and soybean crops since the introduction of the technology.

To make the information meaningful, it is necessary to see which of the developing countries have contributed 52% of the gain while which of the crops and the traits are important in the GM technology of these long years.  Answers to these questions may help to take decision on the traits, technology, and crops. The data of 2017 showed five countries, viz. USA (75.0 million ha.) Brazil (50.2 million ha) Argentina (23.8 million ha); Canada (13.1 million ha), India (11.4 million ha) covered a total of 173.30 hac.  or 91.30% of the total world acreage of the year. Thus, there are laggards in the GM club of 43 countries, which are not finding GM as profitable as others nor has no dependable program to adopt as it is. Trying modification, which is again restricted due to IPR of the companies on gene/s transferred.  The annual increase in acreage is only 3.0%; while it was only 2.54% increase in 2017 against that of 2016.  Out of these 100.6 million was in the industrial country and 89.2 million in the developing countries.  The data also indicate that 88.7 million hectare (46.75%) is herbicide tolerant; while stacked traits covered 77.7 million ha. (40.95%); and insect tolerant varieties covered rest area. By crops, Soybean, Maize, Cotton, and Canola covered 94.1, 59.7, 24.1 and 10.2 million hectares respectively.

The five top countries that covered more than 91.30% area are also the countries where large agricultural lands are available and the population density is very low. In USA population density is 92.2 per square mile, in Brazil 25 per kms2, in Canada 3.67per kms2, in Argentina 16 persons/km2 and in India 405 persons per km2. These are also the countries where private sector for mechanized cultivation, processing, and marketing is highly organized for both internal and external markets.

In Bangladesh, the population density of 1265 perkms2 is highest in the world.  A country having such a (i) huge population with (ii) a large number of small to medium farmers cultivating as many as 120 crop species in 30 AEZ and in three seasons with almost mosaic-like cultivation of different crops and varieties adjacent to each other in small land holdings having possible gene level contamination at different degrees; (iii) having no organized contract farming system (iv) or an organized market channel where adopter of new technology can market their products at good price; and (v) will have problems to deal with GM technology adoption at a higher  investment without guarantee for good price and can also face market glut. This reduces wealth creation and lowers the livelihood provisions.  The last but not the least for Bangladesh that Soybean, Cotton, and Maize are not important crops yet in Bangladesh, although has potentials for industrialized agriculture. There is a need for strong policy support with bank credit provision for these programs on these crops in this country. Introduction of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh is not yet an example of appropriate adoption and will not be so in near future because of inoperative decision as to adoption/rejection. The information as to adoption rate, decision on seed production and marketing, and relevant R&D studies are not openly discussed issues and thus have no space for criticism for improvement in the process of adoption and utilization of the products.  

(Information Source: ISAAA Reports and Publications - 2016)

Professor Lutfur Rahman
Advisor, Biolife, ACI Ltd.