GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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USA: Cultivation of GM plants, 2009

Maize, soybean, cotton: 88 percent genetically modified

Farmers in the USA are undiminished in their reliance on green gene technology. In the case of maize, soybean and cotton, 88 per cent of seeds planted in the USA in 2009 were genetically modified and represent an increase of three per cent in comparison to the previous year. The proportion of GM varieties for maize and cotton has risen once more but for soybean has sunken slightly to 91 per cent. The field area for GM sugar beet has increased approximately by a third in one year.

In total field area with respect to the previous year, change may hardly be found, although fields sown with soybean rose to a record level of 31.4 million hectare, a slight rise in comparison with 2008 (30.1 million hectare). Conversely, the field area of 35.2 million hectare for maize remained almost unchanged in comparison with that of 2008 and still lies 7 per cent under that of 2007. In the case of cotton, changes hardly could be found in comparison with the previous year and, with 3.66 million hectare, the total field area for this variety lies slightly under that of 2008 (3.7 million hectare).

In the USA in 2009, maize, soybean and cotton were cultivated on a total of 70 million hectare – 61.7 million hectare of these with GM varieties.


Area in mio. ha

Percentage %

GM soybean28.691
GM maize29.985
GM cotton3.288
GM sugar beet0.4595

USA: Cultivation of GM plants in 2009


Cultivation of GM plants in the USA: 1996-2009 (respectively as % of total cultivation of a crop): Soybean (above)

Maize (above)

Cotton (above)

GM sugar beets: from 59 to 95 per cent.

The greatest step occurred in GM sugar beet. Three years after its market entry, the portion of genetically modified varieties in sugar beet production on the USA rose from 59 to 95 per cent. In 2009, genetically modified sugar beet was found on 450,000 hectare.

GM soybean: field area almost consistently high

In the case of soybean, GM varieties have achieved almost total penetration. Their proportion remains at a high level but has sunken slightly to 91 per cent. In the states of Missouri, South Dakota and Nebraska, GM varieties represent 97 per cent. Exclusively herbicide resistant GM soybeans are planted. The field area planted with GM soybean totals 28.6 million hectare in 2009.

GM maize: rise to 85 per cent

In the case of maize, the proportion occupied by GM plants rose further by 5 per cent and now totals 85 per cent. The proportion of insect-resistant Bt varieties within the total field area remains unchanged with respect to 2008 at 17 per cent. The quantity of herbicide-tolerant varieties sold in 2009 sank to 22 per cent. The current trend unequivocally favours varieties with combined insect resistance and herbicide tolerance (‘stacked genes’). In such cases, the proportion rises once more to 46 per cent, an increase of 6 per cent in comparison to the previous year. In the meanwhile, the market also includes varieties that produce two different forms of the Bt protein: one is aimed against the European corn borer, the other against the corn root worm.

While the total field area for maize remains virtually unchanged, the GM field area increased slightly from 28.2 to 29.9 million hectare.

GM cotton: fewer fields

In the case of cotton, the proportion of GM varieties increased slightly from 86 to 88 per cent. In this case, farmers also bought primarily varieties with combined insect resistance and herbicide tolerance (‘stacked genes’, from 45 to 48 per cent).

The field area of GM cotton remained unchanged in 2009 at 3.2 million hectare.

On a smaller scale, GM rapeseed and GM squash are grown on the continental USA and GM papaya on Hawaii.

The figures cited are taken from the official agricultural statistics of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They are compiled by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and are based on the assessment of seed sales and of representative polls of farmers.

The report with up-to-date cultivation statistics for current growth seasons appears annually at the end of July. Field areas for genetically modified soybean, maize and cotton varieties are indicated therein.



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

Further information
Cultivation of GM plants in USA
/td><td class=USDA. NASS: National Agricultural Statistics Service
/td><td class=NASS; Acreage 30.06.2009
Crops and Cereals
GM Plants: The Big Four
Rape Seed
Global GM Crop Production in 2009
July 30, 2009 [nach oben springen]

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