Brazil, Russia, India and China (“BRIC” countries) did not attain a prominent economic performance until 2000’s. However, they have made great strides in economic development in the first decade of 21. century. In fact %40 of the world GDP’s increase belongs to BRIC countries during 2011 and 2012, whereas G7’s share of the mentioned increase were only %30.

Their interests on the fundamental world problems are also well known. For example, collaborating with South Africa and Indonesia, they have organized “the International Climate Change and Food Security Conference” (ICCCFS) in November 6-8, 2011 in Beijing (China) and presented its final declaration in “Climate Change Framework Program Meeting” (UNFCCC) in Durban (South Africa). In the mentioned years, G7’s interest on climate change was not very remarkable. Moreover Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement encounter to this years.
Sprit of the formation of the G20 economies is to collaborate with the fast growing, tomorrow’s potentially rich countries, on decisions about the future problems of the world. As can be seen from the graph, the BRIC countries have moved up in the world economic list, during the mentioned years. China, for example moved from sixth position to second, Brazil from ninth to seventh, India and Russia came from lower positions to the ninth and eleventh respectively. We can relate the mentioned improvements to different economic sectors for each country, however the main sector would be Agricultural. For example, Brazil’s agricultural export volume grew fivefold from 2001 to 2011 and reached to $80 billion from $16 Billion.

The major role of agrobiotechnologies in agriculture and export performance for some of these countries is outstanding. Let us have look at the details for each country:

BRAZIL: In 2014 global biotech crop field size worldwide has reached to 181 million hectares, where 42 million hectares belongs to Brazil only. It is second after USA (73 million hectares). Ironically, Brazil has been officially banned growing GMO crops until 2003, so for years GM seeds from Argentina or Paraguay were smuggled into Brazil. It is expected that the acreage gap with the US will be closed in the near future. Brazil grew transgenic soybean, maize, cotton currently, but has in the pipeline many candidate crops waiting for approval on sugar cane, beans, papaya, potato and some forest trees. It is remarkable that “EMBRAPA, Brazil’s agricultural R&D organization that has gained approval to commercialize its home-bread biotech virus resistant bean, planning to market it in 2016. A herbicide tolerant soybean which has been developed in a public-private partnership with BASF, is also waiting for an EU import approval to be commercialized in 2016 ”.

CHINA: Plant science has gained lately remarkable attraction but this country is number one in the world on investing public money to plant research. Especially biotechnological studies have brought commercial results and China has cultivated 4 million hectare (2014, % 93 of national production) transgenic home-breed cotton. Political decision of this country is quite unique: The whole GM seeds must be produced by Chinese companies . Several domestic companies were able to commercialize food related GM crops like poplars, papayas with virus resistance, tomatoes and sweet peppers. in 2014 Ministry of Agriculture issued safety certificates for two national products, which are not commercialized yet. First one is Bt rice with resistance to insect pests and second one is enriched with phytase maize, which should improve the feed rating and reduce especially the environmental impacts of manure. This country is also number one in the world importing GMO corn and soy.

INDIA: This country has started cultivating Bt cotton in 2003 and growing area reached to 11.6 million hectares in 2014, representing 93% of all cotton production. With Growing Bt cotton, India became a cotton exporting country, being a importing on before. Since 2006 India is now second biggest cotton producer after China, producing 21% of world cotton.

Because Bt cotton growing carried on with hybrid (higher yield!) technique, growers have enormously benefited. While non-transgenic cotton were requiring 5.9 g of pesticides for the production of 1 kg of cotton, less than 0.9 g of pesticides have been used for the production of 1 kg of Bt cotton. Interestingly the number of cases of pesticide poisoning has also decreased by %88, because Bt cotton farmers spray less frequently. According to a report “Indian Bt cotton farmers spend %31 to %52 less on insecticides and achieve a 34 % to %42 higher cotton yield per ha than farmers who cultivate traditional cotton. Although the total production cost price of Bt cotton is 15 % higher than that of non-Bt cotton, the income of Bt cotton farmers is %53 to %71 higher”. Despite enormous biotechnological investment, India did not commercialize any other Bt crop due to existing old biotechnological regulations.

RUSSIA: Remarkable this county was quite irrelevant to biotechnology until recently. But lately government has implemented a “COMPLEX PROGRAMME of BIOTECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT IN RUSSIA TO 2020″ with a budget of 1.18 trillion rubles to benefit of biotechnologies advantages . The main objective of the program could be summarized as following: “- Russia to take leading position in biotechnology and to create globally competitive sector of bioeconomy which should be technology the basis for modernizing Russian economy along with nanotechnology and information. The money will be spent on the development of priority fields of biotechnology. Thus bioenergy sector will need 367 billion rubles, industrial biotechnology – 210 billion rubles, agricultural and food biotechnology – 200 billion rubles, biomedicine – 150 billion rubles, biopharmaceuticals – 106 billion rubles, marine biotechnology – 70 million rubles, forest biotechnology – 45 billion rubles, and environmental biotechnology – 30 billion rubles”.

It’s obvious that BRIC countries have greatly benefited from agrobiotechnologies which was based on GMO technique. Considering climate change and food security, plant biotechnology seems to be one of the promising alternatives to overcome world hunger risk. Recent scientific progresses have enabled the breeders to edit gens, so genetic modification could be carried on without any foreign gen transfer. This new plant breeding methods with gen-editing, like ‘CRISPR’ or ODM (oligonucleotide directed mutagenesis) which has brought already new commercially variety to the market in USA and Canada, are cheap and very suitable; especially for SME breeding companies. Now raises a question: Should those new techniques (without any foreign gene) regulated like GMO’s or not? If yes, regulatory cost of any new candidate genotype will be $ millions and will need more than ten years for be commercialized. Many countries in America Continent have decided that new breeding techniques should be considered as non GMO. And EC is going to decide on new plant breeding techniques within three months. Hope, no one country won’t overlook agrobiotechnologies, especially after discovery of the new plant breeding methods. Some of BRIC countries have already announced sophisticated biotechnological projects like India ( govt-launches-national-biotechnology-programme/article8045706.ece) and Russia ( news/files/Biotechnology-development-programme-2020-Russia-tk.php#unique-entry-id-4)
Nazimi Acikgoz

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