For farmers, the primary advantage of GM crops is
the potential for increased profit. Since most crop losses are
caused by some combination of diseases, pests, herbicides, and abiotic
stresses, farmers can reduce crop losses and increase yields by planting
crops engineered to be resistant to those factors. Resistance to
even one cause of crop loss could allow farmers to increase annual
revenue by millions of dollars. In addition to increasing yields,
some GM crops reduce the cost of production. Pest-resistant crops,
for example, greatly reduce a farmer's need for pesticide, while
drought-resistant crops reduce the need for irrigation.
Effects of GM crops on farmers' profits:
Diseases account for $90 billion in crop losses annually in the United
States (Africa News Service, 2003).
Bt cotton reduced insecticide use in India by 70%
and saved farmers about $30 per hectare (Qaim and Zilberman, 2003).
Yearly, $32 billion is spent on traditional pesticides. In 1997,
farmers who planted Bt cotton used 300,000 fewer gallons of
insecticides. U.S. farmers planting Bt cotton realized a $40 per
acre benefit; Chinese farmers have seen up to $140 an acre (Mackey and
Bt cotton in the U.S. caused a reduction in average pesticide
costs for farmers in 11 of 13 states studied; the pesticide cost savings
ranged from $1.20 per acre to more than $32 per acre (Marra et al.,
A recent Industry, Science, and Technology
Canada report estimated that a solution to the cold-hardiness problem in
winter wheat alone would generate $100 million annually in increased
revenue for Canadian farmers (Functional Genomics, 2004).
farmers in Georgia would save an estimated $2 million a year if the
water efficiency of cotton increased by a mere 10% ("Altered Genes,"
India exported 5,053,242
metric tons of rice worth $1,212,481,000 (FAOSTAT data, 2004). It
is estimated that 55% of India's rice-growing land is dependent on
rain--over half of the land periodically loses crops to drought because
farmers cannot afford to pay for irrigation (Raj, 2002).
Drought-resistant rice, then, would greatly reduce crop losses,
increasing both farmers' profits and the value of India's rice trade by
millions of dollars annually.