Agricultural biotechnology refers to a group of technologies that allow for an increase in the yield of several kinds of crops. This mainly refers to genetic modification, which allows for greater yield, greater protection against microbes, and several other benefits. Transgenic crops, as crops with genetic modifications are called, help both producers and consumers by providing more produce and better food quality per a given volume.
The global agricultural biotechnology market was worth US$15.3 bn in 2012 and is expected to close to double in valuation till 2019, exhibiting a 9.50% CAGR from 2013 to 2019. The market’s valuation by the end of the forecast period, according to Transparency Market Research, will be US$28.7 bn.
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Growing Demand for Food Drives Global Agricultural Biotechnology Market
Due to the rise in the global population, the overall demand for food has risen consistently in the last few decades. Food crops such as corn, soybean, and wheat represent a major part of overall agriculture due to their important role in human lives. Due to this, genetic modification of these two crops has been at the forefront of agricultural biotechnology. The most famous example of genetic modification of wheat is Dr. Norman Borlaug’s work with wheat strains in India, which brought about the Green Revolution and helped India become independent in matters of agricultural production. Dr. Borlaug also worked on several strains of other crops in other emerging countries, leading to a net benefit of up to one billion people being saved from starvation, for which he was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize.
Apart from their use as food crops, the value of several crops in biofuel production has come to the fore in recent years. Corn, for instance, is used as a major feedstock in biofuel production, and rising demand for the environmentally viable biofuels has led to a consistent rise in the demand for corn, which has been massively helped by agricultural biotechnology.
Asia Pacific, Americas Lead Global Agricultural Biotechnology Market
The U.S. and Brazil are among the largest users of agricultural biotechnology. Asia Pacific has also shown promise as a potential R&D hub for agricultural biotechnology, with the rising number of research centers complemented by steady demand from emerging countries.
On the other hand, the global agricultural biotechnology market is hampered due to the fierce opposition to genetically modified crops in Europe. Recently, anti-GMO activists have faced widespread criticism and ridicule for organizing a fake ‘trial’ of Monsanto, a giant in agricultural biotechnology and patent holder of several genetically modified crops, for its alleged ‘crimes against humanity’. The trial, which is supposed to be held in The Hague in October 2016 by a tribunal consisting of prominent anti-GMO activists, has no legal significance whatsoever.
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Such fierce opposition to genetically modified crops has left the agricultural biotechnology market in Europe lagging behind North America and Asia Pacific. With opposition to GM crops growing in the U.S. as well, this could well become a significant issue to keep an eye on for major players in the global agricultural biotechnology market.