Chart: The Staggering Rise of Genetically Engineered Crops

The Atlantic
Chart: The Staggering Rise of Genetically Engineered Crops
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Chart: The Staggering Rise of Genetically Engineered Crops

It's the stuff of science fiction: scientists splicing foreign genes into plants to make them better or easier for us to produce on a mass scale. By now, you've heard the stories: fish genes in strawberries to protect them from frost, enough bacterial toxins in genetically modified potatoes to kill a beetle, soybeans made to be tolerant to herbicides. It's well known that genetically-engineered crops have been on the steady rise in the American foodbasket since their introduction in 1996. Courtesy of the USDA, the chart above details just how widespread their use has become. The numbers are eye-opening: herbicide tolerant soybeans (Ht) accounting for 93 percent of all soybean acreage, insect-resistant corn (Bt) containing a bacterial gene reaching 63 percent of all acreage in 2010, up from 1 percent in 1996. As the USDA explains: "Soybeans and cotton genetically engineered with herbicide-tolerant traits have been the most widely and rapidly adopted GE crops in the U.S., followed by insect-resistant cotton and corn." Another argument to eat in tonight (and skip the frozen edamame)? We'll let you decide.

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