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Worldwide. Cultivation areas with genetically modified plants, 1996 - 2013, in millions of hectares.

Field areas 2013

Genetically modified plants: Global cultivation on 174 million hectares

The cultivation of genetically modified plants continued to grow globally in 2013. In comparison to 2012, field area rose by five million hectares to a total of 174 million. Field increases above the average were noted in Brazil. But all in all, the trend towards GM plants has slowed down.

The annual report on the worldwide commercial use of genetically modified plants is published by the agro-biotechnology agency ISAAA (‘International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications’). According to the report, 18 million farmers use GM plants worldwide. Along with the USA and Canada, especially emerging economies like Brazil, Argentina, India and China grow them. In 11 countries, the field area is bigger than one million hectares.



Area GM

Proportion GM

Soy 107 79 79%
Maize 179 57.4 32%
Cotton 34 23.9 70%
Rapeseed 34 8.2 24%

Cultivation worldwide in millions of hectares


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Soy. Global cultivation areas, in millions of hectares

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Maize. Global cultivation areas in millions of hectares

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Rapeseed. Global cultivation areas in millions of hectares

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Cotton. Global cultivation areas in millions of hectares


USA 70.1S,M,C,R, SB,squash, papaya
Brazil 40.3S,M,C
Argentina 24.4S,M,C
India 11.0C
Canada 10.8R,M,S,
China 4.2C, poplar, papayas, tomato, sweet pepper
Paraguay 3.6S
South Africa 2.9M,S,C
Uruguay 1.5S,M
Bolivia 1.0S
Philippines 0.8M
Australia 0.6C,R
Burkina Faso 0.5C
Mexico 0.2C,S
Costa Rica<0.1C,S
EU (six member states)0,1M

Field areas for GM plants according to country in 2013; field are in millions of hectares

S = Soybeans, M= Maize, R = Rapeseed, C = Cotton, SB=sugarbeet

Source: ISAAA Brief No 46-2013 (executive summary)

The nations growing GM plants on the largest field areas are the USA (70.1 Million hectare), Brazil (40.3), Argentina (24.4), India (11.0), Canada (10.8) and China (4.2). With a rise from 36.7 to 40.3 million hectares, Brazil had the largest increase. In India, the field area for GM cotton increased to 11 million hectares – this corresponds to approximately 95 percent of the Indian cotton production. Whereas in Canada, the cultivation of GM plants decreased by 0.8 to 10.8 million hectares. In 2013 there were no new countries using GM plants for the first time.

The commercial use of GM varieties still focuses on soybeans, maize, cotton and rapeseed.

  • In the case of soy, the field area for GM soybean increased globally from 81 in 2012 to 84.5 million hectares. The field area of GM soybean compared to the total soy production slightly decreased by 2 percent and stands now at 79 percent. The driving force behind the growth in floor space is Brazil. Other producers are: USA, Argentina, Canada, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica and South Africa.

  • In the case of maize, the field area used for GM varieties increased to 57.4 million hectares, primarily in the USA, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, Uruguay, Egypt, the Philippines and South America. 32 percent of the maize production worldwide is based on GM maize now, that is a decrease of 3 percent compared to the previous year.

  • The field area for GM rapeseed decreased from 9.3 to 8.2 million hectares. The amount of GM rapeseed dropped from 30 to 24 percent. Those fields are found primarily in Canada and Australia.

  • The field area for GM cotton decreased again in 2013, this time by 0.4 to a total of 23.9 million hectares. Worldwide 15 countries use GM cotton. The significant increase of GM cotton planting in Burkina Faso to about 500.000 hectares is an extraordinary development.


Other GM crops:

In the USA, GM sugarbeet has been cultivated since 2007. In 2013, the national amount of herbicide-resistant GM sugar beet was 95 percent and represented a field area of 460.000 hectares. In the preceding year the amount was 59 percent. GM beets are used also by Canadian farmers – in the meanwhile on a field area of 15.000 hectares, corresponding to 96 per cent of Canadian beet area.

Smaller field areas of about 2.000 hectares contain GM zucchini (known as squash). GM papayas are grown in Hawaii also on about 2000 hectares (GM share of 60 percent).

GM papayas (6.275 hectares) and GM poplars (450 hectares) are grown in China. Additionally, there has been a limited cultivation of GM tomatoes, peppers and petunias, for which the ISAAA report gives no detailed information.

In the EU, the use of genetically modified plants is still concentrated on the cultivation of GM maize MON810 mainly in Spain and Portugal. GM varieties provide 30 percent of the national maize production in Spain and about 10 percent in Portugal. The Portuguese areas for GM maize rose to 9.300 hectares in 2012, only to decrease again in 2013 by 12 percent to 8.100 hectares. In Spain, they increased by 21.000 to 137.000 hectares.


See also on GMO-Compass:


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information


GMO Soybeans & Sustainability

Less soil erosion and fuel consumption: herbicide tolerant soybeans are promoting sustainable cultivation methods.


Glyphosate in European agriculture

Interview with a farmer

Glyphosate containing herbicides are not only used in fields with GM crops. They also allow conventional farmers to sow directly into stubble fields without ploughing. Glyphosate has replaced mechanical weed control in many crops and has had an important impact on agricultural practices and crop yields in Europe over the past few decades.

European Glyphosate Task Force

Crops and Cereals
GM Plants: The Big Four
Rape Seed
Global GM Crop Production in 2013
April 9, 2014 [nach oben springen]

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