There are multiple definitions of ‘biotechnology’ and the following are those used by the National Research Council and the USDA of the US:
• Agricultural biotechnology: a collection of scientific tools, including genetic engineering, that are used to create, improve, or modify plants and microorganisms.
The other major tools are: Marker-assisted breeding (using conventional breeding techniques); plant tissue culture; cloning and invitro fertilisation (animals); gene profiling or association mapping; and metabolomics.
• Genetic Engineering: Method to produce an organism with a new trait, generally by transferring a gene(s) from another organism.
• Genetically Modified Organism: Plant, animal or micro-organism produced using genetic engineering (U.S. prefers the term "GE”, ”transgenic", "biotech", "produced using gene technology").
Global Agricultural Biotechnology in 2008
• 2008 marks the 13th anniversary of commercialized biotech crops
• Over 800 million hectares of biotech crops planted worldwide since 1996.
• In 2008, the global area of biotech crops increased 9.4 percent to 125 million hectares
• Biotech crops are grown by over 13 million farmers in 25 countries, including 7 countries in the EU.
• Over 90% of 'biotech' farmers are in developing countries
• In 2008, Bolivia, Burkina Faso and Egypt began planting biotech soy, cotton, and corn (respectively) for the first time.
• They join several other developing countries including the Philippines, India and South Africa.
• Biotech crop production on 4 main crops:
• Soybeans: 53% of global area ~6.5 million ha
• Maize: 30% of global area ~ 37.3 million ha
• Cotton: 12% of global area ~ 15.5 million ha
• Canola (Rape seed) : 5% of global area- 5.9 million ha
• Biotech crop production on two main traits:
• Herbicide Tolerance
• Insect Resistance
• Tendency now on increased use of “Stacked traits” that combine one or more traits.