GM Trait Study

Farmers are increasingly faced with the need to produce more food from fewer resources and under less predictable growing conditions. They are also tasked with managing the broader landscape within which they farm and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Each year, millions of farmers around the world plant biotech crops for higher yields, improved crop quality, and the ability to use sustainable farming practices such as no-till. Getting these innovative new genetically modified (GM) traits from the lab to their fields requires a tremendous investment from product developers.

  • The good news is that the cost of discovery, development, and authorization of a new GM trait has declined by $21 million over the past 10 years. However, more importantly, the time to get these new innovations to market has increased from 13.1 years to 16.5 years.
  • Despite product developers improving parts of the research and development process, it is taking them longer to realize a return on their investment. And just as important, it is taking longer to get these new innovations into the hands of farmers.
  • This report demonstrates that now more than ever, a more harmonised regulatory framework around the world for GM traits would improve time to market, which promotes innovation and ultimately helps farmers and consumers.

Key findings of the study include:

The regulatory phase, the longest duration of the overall process, accounted for almost 40% (37.6%) of the total cost of commercialization and more importantly more than half (51.1%) of the time. This increase in time reflects an increase of almost 140% over the 2008-2012 study and an additional 40 months of lost commercial revenue for product developers.

Survey methodology:

To determine the relative cost and duration of this process, AgbioInvestor conducted a research survey based on information provided by four of the industry’s largest GM trait developers – BASF Agricultural Solutions, Bayer Crop Science, Corteva Agriscience, and Syngenta.

The April 2022 survey entitled, “Black Box Study on the Cost and Time Required for the Discovery, Development and Authorisation of a New Plant Biotechnology-Derived Genetic Trait” focused on GM traits in large scale commodity crops that had received cultivation approval in two countries and import approvals from at least five countries.

The data collected was intended to demonstrate the current situation according to three main categories:

  • Cost of each part of the discovery, development, and authorization process.
  • Time involved to complete each part of the process needed to commercialize a GM trait.
  • Total consecutive time required to bring a GM trait from discovery to commercialization (including authorizations).

The aim of the study was to focus on a single novel trait and exclude the time and cost to develop and gain authorization for stacked genetic traits containing multiple genetic events.