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USA: Cultivation of GM plants, 2013

USA 2013: no reversal of trend – farmers stick to their varieties of GM crops

2013, US farmers still rely on genetically modified plants. In the case of maize and soybeans, the cultivation areas increased again. In spring 2013, there were 70 million hectares of GM plants – that is one million more than 2012. The proportion of GM varieties of maize and cotton rose once more but the overall field area for cotton showed a significant drop. Despite the growing public debate about genetically modified plants, a turnaround to conventional varieties is not in sight. Even increasing problems with glyphosate-resistant weeds and pests had no impact on the seed sales.

GM soy: field area consistently high

The total field area for soybeans remained on a consistently high level. In comparison with 2012, it slightly increased to 31.4 million hectares. The field area of GM soybean compared to the total soy production stands still at 93 percent, which corresponds to an increase of almost one million hectares. The USA continues to cultivate only herbicide-resistant GM soybeans.

Bild vergrößern

Cultivation of GM plants in the USA: 1996-2013 (in million hectares): Soybean (above)


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Maize (above)


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Cotton (above)


Bild vergrößern Rapeseed (above)



Cultivation area (in million hectares)

Percentage %

GM soy



GM maize



GM cotton



GM sugarbeet



GM rapeseed



GM alfalfa



papaya, squash



Total area GM 2013



Total area GM 2012



USA: Cultivation of genetically modified plants 2013

GM maize: rise to 90 percent

In the case of maize, the proportion occupied by GM plants rose further by 2 percent and now totals 90 percent. The field area reaches a record level with 39.3 million hectares. More than two thirds of the GM maize varieties from spring 2013 (71 percent) have several insect and herbicide-tolerances (stacked genes). 2012, the proportion was only 50 percent.

GM cotton: still declining

By contrast, the cultivation of cotton continued to decline. The area decreased to 4.1 million hectares. The proportion of GM varieties also dropped down by 4 to 90 percent. Therefore, there are about one million hectares less of GM cotton than in the previous year. In this case, farmers also bought primarily varieties with combined insect resistance and herbicide tolerance (‘stacked genes’, rising to 67 percent). 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 proportionate areas of other GM varieties are not recorded in the US National Board of Agriculture’s official agricultural statistic. GM rapeseed, sugarbeet, alfalfa, papaya and squash are cultivated.

The current cultivation figures indicate that US farmers are still convinced about the advantages of genetically modified varieties with herbicide and pest resistances. Neither the growing public debate about genetically modified food nor the legislative initiative for a labelling proceeded in several US states have been reflected in larger market shares for conventional varieties so far. In fact, GM crops have a greater presence in the American Seed Trade than the conventional ones.

Farmers stick to their insect resistant GM varities

In some regions, different weeds being resistant against the mainly applied active substance glyphosate (Roundup) have spread by now. However, the farmers didn’t come back to traditional weed control but they prefer new GM varieties having tolerances against other active substances with whom even the roundup-resistant weeds can be countered. Furthermore, the farmers can apply different herbicides on an alternating basis in order to delay a resistance formation in weeds. In the case of maize, the trend for insect resistant GM varieties containing Bt proteins against corn root worms and the European corn borer also continues. Sure, corn root worms being resistant against such Bt maize varieties appear more frequently in the Midwest. But as the concept against the most important pest – the European corn borer – is still working, most farmers decide to continue to grow such GM varieties.


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

Further information
Cultivation of GM plants in USA
USDA. NASS: National Agricultural Statistics Service
NASS; Acreage 30.06.2009
Crops and Cereals
GM Plants: The Big Four
Rape Seed
Global GM Crop Production in 2013
May 21, 2014 [nach oben springen]

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