Monsanto GM trait adoption to grow threefold, forecasts firm

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Monsanto, Biotechnology, Genetic engineering

Monsanto, a leading global biotechnology company, yesterday said it
expects to almost triple its presence outside of the United States.

Currently, there are some 95 million acres outside the US planted with Monsanto's biotech traits. "We believe there is an untapped opportunity to grow our international traits business by approximately another 175 million acres,"​ said the firm's vice president of global commercial business, Brett Begemann, yesterday. "Strong global adoption of our proven traits coupled with recent approvals paves the way for expanded growth and sets the stage for new growth as we look to stack and upgrade these products in the coming years,"​ he told investors at the 16th Credit Suisse Chemicals Conference held in New York. The forecasts highlight a growing global adoption of genetically modified crops, resulting partly from the increased acceptance of the technology as a means to address climate and yield challenges. According to Begemann, Monsanto's corn seeds technologies saw strong adoption in Argentina, Europe, South Africa and India, with growth in this field anticipated at one to two share points annually through the end of the decade. In Brazil, the recent acquisition of Agroeste corn brands expands Monsanto's market share to 40 percent. In addition, Brazilian farmers planted around 50 percent of acres with Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean variety, which the company says is a "step towards"​ the 95 percent penetration levels it is aiming for. In Argentina, Monsanto is aiming to have its stacked trait corn product planted on seven million acres by the end of the decade, while in India the firm believes its cotton trait product has the potential to be planted on 15 to 20 million acres in the period. Although the popularity of biotech crops continues to grow as the market lets down certain barriers connected to the use of the technology, consumer demand continues to be a major challenge. In an environment of a growing demand for all things natural, organic, ethical and sustainable, many consumers continue to turn their noses up at the idea of genetically modified foods, particularly in Europe. In the US, the technology has generally been better accepted, although studies show that many consumers remain ignorant of the use of genetic modification in the food chain. According to a new report by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), less than one quarter of American consumers believe that biotech foods are currently available in supermarkets, which highlights a huge gap in consumer education and informed choices. This gap is largely a result of the fact that FDA regulations do not require the labeling of biotech foods, unless the use of biotechnology introduces an allergen, or if it substantially changes the food's nutritional content.

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