Global pipeline of GM crops for 2020

January 20, 2016

A study published in Nature Biotechnology presents the worldwide pipeline of genetically modified (GM) crops that are likely to be commercialized and cultivated by farmers in the short to medium term. Researchers at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission have updated a 2008 JRC study that analyzed the GM crops that were expected in the market in 2015. The paper describes GM crops in the pipeline from 2008 to 2014, and shows the global situation of GM crops in development, with the objective of describing the medium-term innovations in the food, feed, and industrial sectors.

The database has been built by collecting information about the status of GM crops both in the regulatory pipeline of national biotechnology agencies and in the advanced phase of development by technology providers. In addition, the researchers examine the 2020 outlook of new crops and traits, with a special focus on new quality traits (e.g., for nutrition enhancement) and plants and traits developed for the emerging bioeconomy sector. This last group refers to plants genetically modified to provide feedstock material for the manufacturing of liquid biofuels and the production of bio-based chemicals.

The researchers include a look at trade implications of the global GM crops pipeline, giving particular relevance to the potential issues of Low Level Presence (LLP) of non-authorized GM crops, related to asynchronous approval or isolated foreign approvals of GM crops.

Finally, the study analyzes the role of developing countries in the GM crop pipeline. The authors conclude that, although a few arable crops (for feed and industrial use) and agronomic traits will likely dominate commercial varieties for the foreseeable future, with many being stacked together, more quality traits and specialty crops are being introduced into the pipeline. They also note that new technology developers are emerging, particularly in developing countries such as India, China, Brazil, and Africa.