U.S. farmers have adopted genetically engineered (GE) crops widely since their commercial introduction in 1996, notwithstanding uncertainty about consumer acceptance and economic and environmental impacts. In terms of share of planted acres, soybeans and cotton have been the most widely adopted GE crops in the U.S., followed by corn.
The 2000-16 GE adoption data were collected as part of the June Agricultural Survey that NASS conducts during the first 2 weeks of June and publishes at the end of June in the NASS report Acreage. Regarding GE crops, randomly selected farmers across the United States were asked during the first 2 weeks of June if they planted seed that, through biotechnology, were resistant to herbicides, insects, or both. Unlike previous surveys, herbicide-tolerant varieties in this survey include only those developed using biotechnology. Conventionally bred herbicide-tolerant varieties (non-GE) were excluded from this portion of the survey. Insect-resistant varieties include only those containing the gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Seeds that have both herbicide tolerant and insect resistant traits are referred to as “stacked.”
According to NASS, the States published in these tables represent 81-86 percent of all corn planted acres, 87-90 percent of all soybean planted acres, and 81-93 percent of all upland cotton planted acres (depending on the year).
The acreage estimates are subject to sampling variability because all operations planting GE varieties are not included in the sample. The variability for the 48 corn States, calculated by NASS using the relative standard error at the U.S. level, is 0.3-1.8 percent for all GE varieties (depending on the year), 1.6-6.2 percent for insect-resistant (Bt)-only varieties, 1.6-3.8 percent for herbicide-tolerant-only varieties, and 0.6-10.8 percent for stacked gene varieties. Variability for the 31 soybean States is 0.3-0.8 percent for herbicide-tolerant varieties, depending on the year. Variability for the 17 upland cotton States is 0.6-2.2 percent for all GE varieties, 4.6-21.4 percent for insect-resistant (Bt)-only varieties, 2.6-12.8 percent for herbicide-tolerant-only varieties, and 1.8-11.6 percent for stacked gene varieties.