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GM crops: The ultimate weapon for global food securityqrcode

Feb. 13, 2024

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Feb. 13, 2024

Currently in the 21st century, the world is facing unparalleled challenges, such as a rising population, the severe repercussions of climate change, escalating resource limitations, and heightened anxieties about food safety and quality. Under this context, transgenic technology stands out as a crucial instrument for tackling these challenges, due to its unique potential. The transgenic technology industry, positioned at the forefront of agricultural technological innovation, has undeniable significance.

As a leading media outlet in the agricultural industry, AgroPages recognizes the vital role of transgenic technology in advancing the sustainable development of agriculture. Our focus on transgenic technology goes beyond its stature as the latest technological advancement, it is due to the technology’s fundamental importance to the future of global food security. Transgenic technology can increase crop yields, improve stress resistance, decrease reliance on pesticides and preserve biodiversity, all critical solutions urgently required in our era.

However, the advancement of transgenic technology is not without controversy. Public concerns regarding its safety, ethical implications and impact on biodiversity have introduced complexities into the industry’s trajectory. As a responsible media outlet, AgroPages is steadfast in its commitment to providing an impartial and objective space where all voices can find expression, allowing scientific perspectives to be discussed.

In the forthcoming chapters, we will explore the diverse facets of the transgenic technology industry in 2023, encompassing technological advancements, market dynamics, policy influences, societal acceptance and prospects for the future. This article aims to offer readers a comprehensive and in-depth observation of the transgenic technology industry, to jointly witness how this technology shapes our future.

In today’s globalized world, agriculture has transformed from an isolated sector to a multifaceted network intricately intertwined with technology, economy, environment and society. Serving as a crucial bridge across these domains, transgenic technology is poised to bring about profound changes for global agriculture and even the entire human society. As a disseminator of agricultural information, AgroPages has both the responsibility and mission to observe, record and advance the process of this transformative change.

Global status and market trends of GM crop cultivation

Global cultivation area and distribution of GM crops

As of 2022, the global cultivation area of genetically modified (GM) crops totaled 202.2 million hectares, accounting for some 12% of total arable land worldwide, and marking a 3.3% increase from the previous year, which was at 196 million hectares. This expansion was also a new record since the large-scale commercialization of GM crops and reflects the critical role of transgenic technology in global agricultural production and its potential to increase food output to meet global demand.

The US, the largest global producer of GM crops, has implemented policies that primarily focus on fostering innovation, promoting commercialization, safeguarding consumer rights, among others. In 2022, the cultivation area for GM crops in the US reached 74.7 million hectares, constituting 36.9% of global cultivation area, with a marginal 1% year-on-year decrease. In terms of GM corn cultivation, the US leads with 33.3 million hectares, representing around 50.4% of the GM corn cultivation area worldwide. Additionally, it is the second largest grower of GM soybeans after Brazil, with a cultivation area of 33.6 million hectares, accounting for 34.0% of the global total. GM varieties dominate 95% of cultivation areas for soybeans and cotton and 93% for corn.

In Canada, the GM crop cultivation area stood at 11.3 million hectares, a 3.0% decrease from 2021. Due to weather-related factors, the country’s GM canola cultivation area was 8.2 million hectares, down by 4.7% compared to the previous year. Despite this, Canada remains the world’s largest producer of GM canola, significantly surpassing the US and Australia.

Brazil is the world’s second largest grower of GM crops, with its GM crop cultivation area witnessing a 10.4% increase to reach 63.2 million hectares, accounting for 31.3% of the worldwide GM crop cultivation area. Brazil’s GM soybean cultivation area reached 41.1 million hectares, a 6.2% rise from the previous year, representing more than 90% of the country’s soybean cultivation area and making it the world’s largest grower of GM soybeans. Moreover, Brazil has seen significant rises in its GM corn and GM cotton cultivation areas. The adoption rate of GM corn experienced a remarkable increase, rising from 88% to 95%, while GM cotton reached an impressive 99%, with the cultivation area reaching a historic high of 1.6 million hectares, a substantial 28.4% year-on-year increase.

Argentina ranks third globally in GM crop area, reaching 23.5 million hectares, with a modest year-on-year increase of 0.4%. The country’s cultivation area for GM corn increased by 11.0% to 7.1 million hectares, while soybeans, the primary GM crop in Argentina, has a cultivation area of 15.9 million hectares, a 4.4% decrease from the previous year. Except for alfalfa, all GM crops have an adoption rate exceeding 90%, with GM varieties dominating 95% of the cultivation area for soybeans and cotton and 93% for corn.

The Asia-Pacific region has considerable potential for the expansion of its GM crop cultivation area. India’s GM crop cultivation area accounts for 63.6% in the region, with an adoption rate of GM cotton exceeding 91%. India leads globally in cultivation area for GM cotton, with 80% of total area being dedicated to Bt cotton. However, varieties resistant to herbicides or those with other composite traits are yet to be commercially planted in the country.

China, as the second largest country in Asia for GM cotton cultivation, witnessed a 3.2% year-on-year decrease in its GM crop cultivation area in 2022, totaling 2.9 million hectares. Since the commercialization of the first batch of GM cotton varieties in China in 1998, the adoption rate once exceeded 90% of total cotton cultivation area, meaning that China had the second largest GM cotton cultivation area in Asia.

Western Australia is currently the largest region in Australia for the planting of GM canola, with a share exceeding 70%. Since 2014, GM cotton has dominated 99.9% of total cotton cultivation area in Australia. Varieties predominantly include Bayer’s Bollgard 3 XtendFlex, Roundup Ready and Liberty Link.

In 2022, the Philippines witnessed a 5.2% decrease in GM crop area, coinciding with a decline in the adoption of GM corn varieties. Despite this, the Philippines stands as the first country in the world to commercially plant a type of GM rice, ″Golden Rice,″ which possesses high levels of beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin, through the expression of crt1 and psy1 genes. The variety was developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and planted on 38,000 hectares in its first year of cultivation. In the same year, GM eggplant was approved for planting in the Philippines for the first time, although commercial planting has not yet started.

Market performance of major GM crops

Among the numerous types of GM crops, the cultivation area of GM soybeans reached 98.9 million hectares in 2022, accounting for 48.9% of the total cultivation area for GM crops, marking a 2.6% rise from the previous year, and establishing GM soybeans as the largest GM crop by cultivation area. Its strong market performance continued into 2023. GM soybeans are in demand in the market due to their high yields and resistance to pests, especially as global demand for soybean protein and vegetable oil if surging. The price fluctuations of GM soybeans in the international market are influenced by various factors, such as the stability of the global supply chain, the impact of climate change on production, and changes in international trade policies.

Following closely is GM corn, with a cultivation area of 66.2 million hectares, accounting for 32.7% of total and marking a 3.3% increase from the previous year. In 2023, the global cultivation area of GM corn continued to grow, with the US and Brazil leading the way. market demand for GM corn mainly comes from the feed industry and biofuel production industry. With the continuous development of the biofuel industry, the market prospects for GM corn are promising.

GM cotton ranks third with a cultivation area of 25.4 million hectares, accounting for 12.6% of total and marking a 7.9% increase from the previous year. It continues to be favored by farmers in 2023, and despite fluctuations in the global cotton market in 2023, the cultivation area and production of GM cotton maintained stable growth.

Globally, GM cotton boasts the highest adoption rate, which reached 80.4%, reflecting its significant advantages in terms of reducing pesticide use and increasing yield. The adoption rates for GM varieties of soybeans and corn are 73.7% and 32.9%, respectively, highlighting the importance of these two crops to global agricultural production.

Although the cultivation area of GM eggplant is relatively small, standing at only 30,000 hectares, its 80.9% growth rate makes it the fastest-growing GM crop. This rapid growth may be related to specific demands in certain regions and the promotion of GM eggplant varieties.

In contrast, the cultivation areas for GM canola, alfalfa and sugarcane decreased by 0.7%, 2.1%, and 16.6%, respectively, which could be due to market demand shifts, policy changes and alterations in planting structures.

The cultivation area of GM sugar beet remained stable, staying at 500,000 hectares, while the cultivation area of GM wheat is relatively small at 100,000 hectares, possibly due to regulatory restrictions and market acceptance in certain countries.

The potential of transgenic technology in emerging markets

Asia is the world’s most populous continent and one of the regions with the fastest-growing demand for food. In 2023, some Asian countries, such as China, India and the Philippines, have become more proactive in exploring the application of transgenic technology. These countries have made progress in the research and development (R&D) and commercialization of GM crops, showing considerable market potential.

Africa has lagged in the adoption of transgenic technology, but a turning point occurred in 2023. Several countries in this region are now recognizing the technology’s potential to enhancing agricultural productivity and combating climate change. With developments in the policy landscape and strengthened international collaborations, Africa’s momentum towards embracing transgenic technology is likely to grow.

Latin America, as a traditional market for GM crops, has continued this trajectory in 2023. The GM crop planting areas in countries such as Brazil and Argentina continue to expand. Additionally, these countries are actively fostering the application of transgenic technology in other fields, such as the production of biofuels.

In summary, the market dynamics of the global transgenic technology industry in 2023 indicate the wide acceptance and sustained growth of this technology. Despite the challenges, the cultivation area, market performance and international trade and export of GM crops reveal robust vitality. In emerging markets, the gradual unlocking of the potential of transgenic technology signals expansive development prospects for the industry in the future.

Global differences in GM crop regulations and their impact on agriculture and trade

Despite the immense potential of transgenic technology, related legal regulations vary significantly across countries, leading to a fragmented global regulatory landscape. Some countries have adopted more lenient regulations, promoting the cultivation and commercialization of GM crops, whereas others enforce strict regulations, restricting or even prohibiting the planting and sale of GM crops. These regulatory disparities do not only affect the agricultural and food sectors, they also have far-reaching implications for international trade and food security.


China has adopted a regulatory framework for GM crops and gene-edited crops that falls between strict and lenient. The Chinese government places considerable importance on the safety of GM organisms, establishing a series of laws and regulations to govern the research and development, production and application of transgenic technology.

The regulatory framework for GM organism safety management in China includes the Regulations on Administration of Agricultural GMO Safety (promulgated in 2001), the Administrative Measures for Safety Assessment of Agricultural GMOs (promulgated in 2002), and the Administrative Measures for Safety Administration of Agricultural GMOs (promulgated in 2002). These regulations set out the principles, procedures and requirements for GM organism safety management.

For gene-edited crops, China introduced the Guidelines for Safety Evaluation of Gene-edited Plants for Agricultural Use (Trial) in 2022, the first specific safety assessment guidelines for gene-edited plants in China. The guidelines define the contents and procedures for evaluating the safety of gene-edited plants, covering molecular characteristics, genetic stability, environmental safety and food safety.

The Chinese government also established the Agricultural GMO Safety Administration Office, which is responsible for researching and decision-making related to significant issues related to GM organism safety management. Additionally, China has established institutions for the supervision, inspection and testing of agricultural GM organisms, to provide technical support for the implementation of the Regulations on Administration of Agricultural GMO Safety and its supporting regulations.

In terms of industrialization, the approval process for commercializing GM crops in China is complex and lengthy. To foster the development of GM crop industrialization, the Chinese government has proposed a series of policy recommendations, including streamlining approval processes, facilitating communication between regulatory agencies and academic groups, and establishing a comprehensive regulatory system.

The US

The US maintains a relatively relaxed regulatory policy towards GM crops, based on the principle of ″substantial equivalence,″ which states that if a GM product resembles its traditional counterpart, no special regulations are required. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly regulate GM crops.

The USDA primarily regulates field trials and the commercial cultivation of GM crops, to ensure that they do not harm agricultural ecosystems. The FDA oversees food safety regulations for GM crops and derivatives, to ensure that they do not risk human health. The EPA regulates the potential environmental impacts of GM crops, focusing on their effects on non-target organisms.

The regulatory process for GM crops in the US includes laboratory research, field trials, environmental release and commercial cultivation stages. Before commercial cultivation, GM crops must undergo biosafety assessments by the USDA and food safety assessments by the FDA.

For gene-edited crops, the US released new regulatory guidelines in 2018, reducing the regulatory burden for certain gene-edited crops. According to these guidelines, if gene-edited crops do not contain any foreign DNA or if the editing results mimic natural variations, these crops might not have to undergo the same regulatory process as GM crops. This change reflects the US recognition of gene editing technology as a safer, more precise breeding technique.

Also in 2021, the US government issued an executive order on ″Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products,″ which require relevant departments to update related regulations and technical guidelines covering gene-edited crop products, to streamline the regulatory process and achieve innovation.

European Union

The European Union (EU) has adopted a highly cautious approach towards regulating GM crops, through policies based on the precautionary principle and rigorous risk assessment. The EU’s GM crop regulatory framework primarily consists of directives, such as ″Directive 2001/18/EC on the Deliberate Release into the Environment of GM Organisms.″ These directives established the requirements for the approval, labeling and traceability of GM organisms (GMOs).

The approval process for GM crops in the EU is exacting, necessitating scientific assessments by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and subsequent political decisions by the EU Commission and member states. However, public concerns about transgenic technology and disagreements among member countries mean that the EU approves relatively few GM crops. Additionally, the EU implements rigorous labeling and traceability systems, requiring clear labeling for all food and feed containing GM ingredients.

Regarding gene-edited crops, the EU’s position has evolved. In 2018, the European Court of Justice decided that gene-edited crops should be classified as GM crops, therefore, requiring compliance with the same regulatory procedures. This ruling ignited controversy as proponents of gene editing technology contend that it should be considered a safer and more precise breeding technique. Despite this, the EU is working to update its regulatory framework to adapt to the development of genome editing technology.

The EU’s GM crop policy is also influenced by the diversity of its member states. Some member states, such as Spain and Portugal, have a more open attitude towards GM crops while others, such as France and Austria, have adopted more stringent stances. This diversity leads to disagreements within the EU on GM crop policies.

Other countries

Apart from China, the US, and the EU, many other countries have established their own laws and regulations on GM organisms to suit their national conditions and requirements. These regulations are diverse, covering approval procedures, labeling requirements, and planting restrictions, among others.

Brazil, a country with a substantial area dedicated to the cultivation of GM crops, has a relatively lenient regulatory system. Brazil’s legal framework for biosafety regulation requires that GM crops must be approved by the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio) for planting and production. In 2018, CTNBio updated the Normative Resolution No. 16, stating that gene-edited crops without the introduction of foreign genes should not be regulated as GM crops, but should instead be classified as conventional plants. This policy further simplifies the administration procedures for gene-edited crops.

Canada has relatively strict regulations for GM crops but maintains an open attitude towards gene-edited crops. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) manages the regulations for end products and conducts science-based risk assessments for any plant with novel traits that could potentially impact the environment and human health. In 2022, Health Canada released a new policy that stated that gene-edited crops meeting the definition of non-novel foods can be treated the same as traditional crops, exempting them from pre-market safety assessments.

Argentina has adopted a proactive approach to the regulation of GM crops. In 2018, the Argentine government released a research report on emerging biotechnologies, asserting that these new technologies contribute to achieving the strategic goals of biodiversity and should not be subject to current regulations on GM crops. In 2021, Argentina released its final guidelines for the safety assessment of gene-edited plants, simplifying relevant regulations through revisions.

South Africa, a significant GM crop producer in Africa, holds a supportive attitude towards GM crops. South Africa’s biosafety management system is mainly based on the Genetically Modified Organisms Act, managed by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. In 2021, South Africa announced that it would regulate products derived from new breeding technologies under the current GMO act, a decision opposed by the South African National Seed Organization.

Australia, which has several years of experience in the safety regulation of biobreeding technology, has taken a middle-ground approach between the US and EU. The primary regulatory body in Australia is the Gene Technology Regulator 2001[EB/OL], which is responsible for regulatory assessments related to the indoor research, field trials and commercial cultivation of GM organisms. The Australian government regularly reviews and revises the Gene Technology Act to ensure that the regulatory system can keep pace with technological advances.

New Zealand has taken a wait-and-see attitude towards genome editing technology, requiring plants created through new breeding technologies, even if they do not contain foreign DNA, to be regulated as GM crops. Regulatory body MPI Biosecurity New Zealand is responsible for regulating GM organisms.

Despite not commercializing GM crops, Japan imports a significant amount of GM grains and other agricultural products every year. It has adopted a cautious and moderately progressive approach towards GM crops. The safety assessment process for GM organisms in Japan includes biodiversity assessment, food safety assessment and feed safety assessment. This process is undertaken by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Ministry of the Environment.

India has taken an attitude between leniency and caution towards GM organisms. The main regulatory bodies in the country include the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Ministry of Science and Technology, with close support from other agencies and coordination between the central and local governments. The approach is characterized by an ″actively progressive″ technical attitude, a ″strictly cautious″ regulatory attitude, and a ″safety first″ regulatory concept. India has also established a dedicated composite regulatory body (IBSC) and a transgenic technology appraisal committee (RDAC) for transgenic technology.

Development status and trends of GM crops in the US and China

The US

In recent years, GM crops with herbicide tolerance (HT) and insect resistance traits (Bt) have witnessed wide global adoption. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), most GM crops planted in the US exhibit HT, Bt or a combination of both traits. Since 2014, the adoption rate of HT soybeans in the US has remained stable at around 94%, with a 1% increase observed between 2021 and 2022. The adoption rate of HT cotton reached 94% in 2021, slightly decreasing in 2022, while Bt cotton made up approximately 89% of total. In 2022, the adoption rate of HT corn was around 90%, with the rate for Bt corn rising to 84%. The adoption rates of these traits are significantly higher than other traits, such as virus and fungus resistance traits, stress resistance traits and quality-improving traits, such as enhanced protein, oil or vitamin content. GM crops with combined traits, benefiting from both herbicide tolerance and insect resistance, are favored by farmers due to their lower production costs and are rapidly gaining popularity.

Globally, the adoption rate of GM crops with HT, Bt or combined traits were 43%, 12% and 45%, respectively, in 2019, compared with 71%, 18%, and 11%, respectively, in 2005. Regionally, crops with combined traits accounted for only 1% of corn cultivation area in the US in 2000, but by 2022, the proportion had risen significantly to 81%. It is predicted that by 2023, the adoption rate for major GM crops - cotton, soybeans, and corn - in the US will exceed 95%, with GM crops featuring combined traits expected to dominate the market.


Since 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China has successively issued many issues of agricultural GM organism safety certificate approval lists, which cover the production and application of GM crops, such as corn and soybeans. Over the past four years, five companies, two universities and a research institute have obtained production certificates for GM corn and soybeans, including Dabeinong, Hangzhou Ruifeng, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, South China Agricultural University and the Institute of Crop Sciences of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Further, Shandong BellaGen Biotechnology Co., Ltd., and Suzhou Qi Biodesign Co., Ltd., have obtained gene-editing certificates.

GM cotton and microorganisms have been approved for production since 2016, and GM corn and soybeans have been approved consecutively since 2019.

In 2019, Dabeinong, Hangzhou Ruifeng and Shanghai Jiao Tong University were given approval to produce insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant corn and soybeans.

In 2020, Dabeinong, South China Agricultural University and the Institute of Crop Sciences of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences were given approval to produce herbicide-tolerant corn, herbicide-tolerant soybeans and transgenic PRSV-resistant papaya.

In 2021, Dabeinong, Hangzhou Ruifeng, Huazhong Agricultural University, the Institute of Crop Sciences of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and China National Tree Seed Group Corporation Limited, in collaboration with China Agricultural University, were given approval to produce insect-resistant, insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant corn, herbicide-tolerant soybeans, and insect-resistant corn.

In 2022, Hangzhou Ruifeng, China National Seed Group Co., Ltd., and China National Tree Seed Group Corporation Limited, in collaboration with China Agricultural University, Yuan Longping High-tech Agriculture Co., Ltd., and the Biotechnology Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, were given approval to produce herbicide-tolerant corn, insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant corn, and insect-resistant soybeans.

In 2023, Dabeinong, Hangzhou Ruifeng, China National Seed Group Corporation, Longping Biological, Zhejiang Xin'an Chemical Group, and the Institute of Crop Sciences of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, in collaboration with China National Seed Group, were given approval to produce insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant corn, insect-resistant corn, herbicide-tolerant corn, herbicide-tolerant soybeans, and insect-resistant soybeans.

Notably, Hangzhou Ruifeng Biotechnology Co., Ltd., has been a consistent recipient of agricultural GM organism safety certificates, and Beijing Dabeinong Biotechnology Co., Ltd., has received certificates every year except in 2022. In 2023, two more companies, Longping Biotechnology (Hainan) Co., Ltd., and Zhejiang Wynca Chemical Industrial Group Co., Ltd., were added to the certificate recipients list.

In the area of the production application of gene editing technology, in April 2023, Shandong BellaGen Biotechnology Co. Ltd., secured the first safety certificate for agricultural gene-edited organisms for production application, primarily used for quality trait improvements in soybeans. Later, Suzhou Qi Biodesign Co. Ltd., also obtained a similar certificate.

When it comes to crop types receiving approval, China’s approved GM crops are mainly focused on essential crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton. These crops are not only vital elements of China’s agricultural production, they also make up the bulk of GM crops worldwide. Corn, being China’s largest grain crop, constitutes around 35% of total grain cultivation area and accounts for 40% of the country’s total annual grain output. Soybeans, which has a significant demand-supply gap in China, saw imports exceed 90 million tons in 2022, highlighting a high dependency on imports. Therefore, facilitating the adoption of biotechnology in agriculture is crucial to ensuring national food security and promoting sustainable development in agricultural technology.

Strategic layout and innovation progress of the four global agricultural technology giants in the field of GM crops


In 2018, the Syngenta Group received a safety certificate for agricultural GM organisms from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, which allowed it to conduct the experimental cultivation of a GM corn variety with insect and herbicide resistance traits in the country, marking a significant milestone for the company’s local push for GM crops.

In 2019, Syngenta Group invested RMB 1.46 million in the research and development of GM rice, specifically for pilot testing and demonstration stages, reflecting the company’s active exploration in the application of transgenic technology. At the same time, a GM corn variety developed by the company, combining five traits, underwent pilot testing in two major production areas over a validity period from April 2019 to April 2021. This variety exhibited multiple functions such as resistance to glyphosate, glufosinate, and insects from the Coleoptera and Lepidoptera orders, illustrating the company’s high starting point in GM technology applications. This experimental cultivation project signified a substantial move for the company before fully commercializing GM crops, indicating Syngenta Group’s proactive efforts in the research and development of GM crops.

Golden Rice, rich in β-carotene, is a landmark achievement for the Syngenta Group’s GM crop research and development efforts. Despite controversies in various countries, such as the Philippines, the Syngenta Group continues to promote this GM crop, which can help alleviate vitamin A deficiency in poverty-stricken regions. The company also conducts research and development on gene editing technology at its Beijing Innovation Center, its only gene editing technology center among its seven global innovation centers. Products developed at the center could take five to ten years to reach the market.

From 2018 to 2023, the Syngenta Group, as a global leader in agricultural technology, actively drove GM crop research, development, commercialization and market promotion. With increasing annual investments in research and development, the company has allocated RMB10 billion to cutting-edge agricultural technology, including the study of GM crops, to create transgenic seeds that improve crop yield, resist pests and diseases, and adapt to climate change.

This strategy not only strengthens Syngenta’s global seed business competitiveness, particularly in the GM seed market, but it also generates a powerful market force through mergers with ADAMA and ChemChina’s agricultural division. The Syngenta Group ranks third in the global seed market, with its GM seed products making up over half of global market share. The company uses its global network to promote GM crop technology in major farming countries, such as the US, Brazil and Argentina.


Over the five years from 2018 to 2023, Bayer Crop Science demonstrated its leadership and innovative capabilities in the field of GM crops. During this period, Bayer implemented a series of strategic actions that led to significant progress in its research and development, as well as important contributions to its market promotion and sustainable development.

Firstly, Bayer substantially enhanced its research and development capabilities in the field of GM crops by acquiring Monsanto, allowing to integrate the latter’s transgenic technologies, such as the Roundup Ready technology, which imparts resistance to crops against glyphosate herbicide. Building on this, Bayer introduced XtendFlex soybeans, a GM product with triple resistance genes against glyphosate, dicamba and glufosinate herbicides. The launch of this product marked a significant expansion for Bayer in the GM crop market.

Policy responsiveness and collaboration were also crucial aspects of Bayer’s actions during this period. Bayer actively responded to China’s initiative to revitalize its seed industry by co-sponsoring the public welfare training project, titled, ″Embrace Green,″ with China’s National Agricultural Technology Extension Service Center, to promote the high-quality development of agriculture in China. Globally, Bayer has worked with governments and regulatory agencies to advance the legalization and commercialization of GM crops, such as introducing novel hybrid varieties with biotech traits in Africa. 

In terms of investment and infrastructure construction, Bayer established the Hangzhou Supply Center and the Bayer Innovation Hub in Danyang, Jiangsu, China. The establishment of these facilities highlights the company’s long-term commitment to the Chinese market and its focus on the research and development of GM crops. The Bayer Innovation Hub in Danyang, officially inaugurated this year and featured at the 6th China International Import Expo, is one of Bayer’s 17 global innovation centers. It boasts modern agricultural facilities and specialist research personnel, enabling field trials and indoor research for various key crop targets.

In summary, Bayer Crop Science actively advanced the research and promotion of GM crops between 2018 and 2023 through activities such as mergers and acquisitions, research and development, market promotion, sustainable development, policy responsiveness, investment in infrastructure, and product launches. These efforts underscore Bayer’s leadership position in the global agricultural sector and its commitment to sustainable development.


From 2018 to 2023, BASF launched various strategic initiatives to solidify its position in agricultural biotechnology, especially in the research, development, promotion and commercialization of GM crops.

BASF strengthened its competitive position in the seed market and amassed rich GM crop R&D resources and technology by acquiring parts of Bayer’s business and assets, including some of the latter’s seed business and non-selective herbicide business. This integration accelerated BASF’s research and development in GM seeds.

In terms of R&D investment, BASF has consistently intensified its efforts, especially in improving soybean and cotton seeds. For example, BASF introduced the FiberMax FM 1730GLTP cotton seed variety with three-gene lepidopteran resistance and the Xitavo™ soybean seed variety tolerant to root-knot nematodes and blight in 2021. These new varieties increase crop yield and quality and reduces dependency on chemical pesticides, in line with modern agriculture’s demand for environmental protection and sustainable development.

BASF’s success in GM crops can also be attributed to its patent portfolio. It holds a significant number of patents for the R&D of GM soybeans and corn. The industrial applications and strategic layouts of these patents confirms BASF’s proficiency and dominance in GM crop technology. For example, BASF has a significant share of GM soybean patent applications, providing a robust foundation for its competitiveness in the GM crop market.

In response to climate change and environmental challenges, BASF prioritizes adaptability to extreme conditions when developing GM crops. It has, therefore, introduced seed varieties with drought and salinity resistance to help farmers maintain stable agricultural production amid changing climate conditions.

In terms of commercializing and promoting GM crops, BASF supports the use of transgenic technology as an effective solution to address the challenges facing growers. For example, BASF promotes GM corn and soybean seeds in China that possess pest resistance and herbicide tolerance qualities, resulting in higher crop yields and reduced pesticide usage. This not only mirrors BASF’s positive attitude towards transgenic technology, but it also highlights its commitment to sustainable agriculture.

BASF affirms that having been practiced in North and South America for 20 years, transgenic technology is proven to be safe. The company participates in various channels and activities, such as seminars and public forums, to educate the public about the safety and benefits of GM crops, reflecting its social responsibility in the areas of scientific communication and public education.

Through these initiatives, BASF has made significant advances in the field of GM crops and has demonstrated its responsibility and foresight as a global agricultural technology leader. The company’s actions not only drive innovation in agricultural biotechnology, but they also contribute to global food security and sustainable development. In the future, BASF will continue its leading role in the field of GM crops, exerting greater efforts through continuous technological innovation and social responsibility practices for the prosperity of global agriculture and human well-being.


From 2018 to 2023, Corteva undertook a series of strategic corporate actions in the field of GM crops, reflecting its foresight and innovation capability in agricultural biotechnology, as well as its keen insight into and proactive responsiveness to changes in the global agricultural market.

Corteva made significant progress in commercializing GM crops. In 2022, the company received import approval for its Canola variety, Optimum® GLY Canola, in China, the industry’s first approval of this type in three years, signifying international recognition of Corteva’s technological strength in GM crops. In the same year, Corteva also received approval for its corn variety, DP4114 (Qrome® Corn), further consolidating its market position in the GM crops sector.

In the US market, the proportion of Corteva’s GM varieties has seen rapid growth over the past two years, reflecting both the company’s proficiency in GM technology applications and the broad acceptance and growth potential of GM crops in the market. Through continuous technological innovation, Corteva introduced a series of GM seed products, such as Enlist E3™ soybean seeds and Qrome® corn seeds.

Corteva has invested heavily in research and development, especially in corn breeding. The company holds a quarter of the world’s molecular breeding patents and controls over 60% of germplasm resources. Most notably, Corteva successfully integrated disease resistance traits into corn genomes using CRISPR technology. This successful application not only enhances crop disease resistance, but it also opens new possibilities for future crop improvements. Moreover, the outcomes of research conducted by Corteva’s scientific team published in Molecular Plant Pathology highlighted the potential of gene-editing technology to increase crop yield and stress resistance.

Corteva predicts that as GM varieties gain traction, soybean and corn production could potentially increase by tens of millions of tons. This outlook is rooted not only in the company’s technological accumulation in GM crops, but also in its deep understanding of future market demands.

In summary, Corteva’s corporate actions in the field of GM crops reflect its deep commitment to research and development, promotion, and market strategy, as well as its dedication to sustainable development and social responsibility. Through these initiatives, Corteva has not only achieved significant results in technical research and development, but it has also demonstrated flexibility and foresight in market promotion and policy adaptation.

Transgenic technology: Hopes and challenges for the future of agriculture

As the global population continues to grow and climate change causes new challenges, GM technology, as an essential part of modern agricultural science, is increasingly revealing its potential to ensure food security, improve agricultural production efficiency and address environmental changes. However, the development of this technology is not without controversy. Concerns from the public about its safety, ethical implications and potential impact on ecosystems necessitate strengthened regulation and public communication, to ensure the sustainable development of transgenic technology.

The strategic layouts and innovative advancements of major agricultural technology giants indicate that the R&D and commercialization of GM crops are becoming critical drivers of global agricultural development. From the US to Brazil, and from China to India, the promotion of transgenic technology not only transforms the landscape of agricultural production, but it also offers new solutions to global food issues. However, acceptance and regulatory policies differentially applied across countries and regions underscore the importance of international cooperation and coordination in this area.

In the future, GM technology will continue playing a key role in enhancing crop resistance, improving nutritional value and reducing agriculture’s environmental impact. It is important to remember that transgenic technology is not a cure-all, it should be integrated with other innovative agricultural technologies to build a more sustainable and inclusive global agricultural system. This process necessitates dialogue and collaboration among scientists, policymakers, farmers and consumers, to ensure the development of transgenic technology that benefits humanity while safeguarding our shared planet.

Source: AgroNews


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