Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot
PG Economics Ltd, Dorchester, UK

This article updates the assessment of the impact commercialized agricultural biotechnology is having on global agriculture from an environmental perspective. It focuses on the impact of changes in pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions arising from the use of biotech crops. The technology has reduced pesticide spraying by 352 million kg (-8.4%) and, as a result, decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on these crops (as measured by the indicator the environmental impact quotient) by 16.3%. The technology has also significantly reduced the release of greenhouse gas emissions from this cropping area, which, in 2008, was equivalent to removing 6.9 million cars from the roads.

Key words: Pesticide, active ingredient, environmental impact quotient, carbon sequestration, biotech crops, no tillage.