Genetically modified crops have saved around 18 billion kg of C)2 gas emissions, which is equivalent to removing 8 million cars from the road, a fact that reveals importance of the newer plant technology in mitigating climate change.
"In 2009, the combined permanent and additional saving through sequestration was equivalent to a saving of around 18 billion kg of CO2 or removing about 8 million cars from the road," ISAAA chairman Clive James said quoting Brookes and Barfoot, 2011 (a UK-based PG Economics company).
The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) is a not-for-profit international organization.
Given that agriculture is a significant contributor (14%) of greenhouse gases (GHG) and therefore part of the problem in climate change, it is appropriate that biotech crops can be part of the solution, James said.
James, who is disciple of Nobel laureate and father of Mexican food revolution architect Norman Borlaug, rolled out these statistics at an international conference on GM crops at Hyderabad last week to highlight advantages of crop biotechnology.
Besides James, ICRISAT Director General William W Dar had also underlined adoption of the newer Bt plant technology by India in a big way.
The ISAAA chief said a record 15.4 million farmers in 29 countries, including India, had planted GM crops in 148 million hectares in 2010. By 2015, which also happens to be millennium development goals year, area under GM crops is expected to reach 1 billion hectare in 40 countries, he added.
Deep cuts in CO2 emissions worldwide are prescribed as the only way to prevent a future global warming catastrophe.
One of the few successes of the Copenhagen Summit on climate change in 2009 was initiative known as REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) which aimed to reduce deforestation, whereas agriculture is a cause of deforestation emitting about 14% of global GHG.
The global research alliance on agriculture greenhouse gases was established in December 2009 with America pledge of $150 billion to investigate and develop potential opportunities, which could reward farmers in poor countries for locking up carbon in their crops and soils under the aegis of clean development mechanism discussed in Copenhagen.
The ISAAA chief said biotech crops require fewer pesticide sprays which results in savings of tractor/fossil fuel and thus less CO2 emissions, he said.
Besides, herbicide tolerant biotech crops encourage zero to no-till which in turn significantly reduces the loss of soil carbon and CO2 emission, he added.