Genetically modified crops on the rise

The June 30 crop progress report, besides signaling the smallest U.S. corn crop since 2010, had some interesting data about actual plantings of GM crops in 2014. Despite calls from consumer groups and activists across the country to label genetically-modified organisms or ban them altogether, farmers continue to purchase and plant these crops to the point of almost complete market saturation. Planted acreage in each of the major commodities with herbicide tolerance and/or insect resistance increased over 2013:

  • Corn: up 3 points to 93%
  • Soybeans: up 1 point to 94%
  • All cotton: up 6 points to 96%

Cotton's surge in 2014 places it ahead of soybeans in total percentage of planted acres for the first time ever. The data doesn't suggest whether this jump owes to good marketing or Southern farmers' attempts to combat herbicide-resistant pigweed (more on the circular logic of controlling superweeds at another time). 

The charts from USDA ERS below track the rapid adoption of GM crops since their introduction. The data does not include information from 2014. Note that crops with stacked traits--Bt (insect resistance) and herbicide tolerance together--comprise the majority of planted acres in both corn and cotton.