$14.4 billion with CAGR of 11.4%
Bt corn, cotton and soybean
Ht corn, cotton and canola
Corn and cotton with stacked gene traits
Company - 2007 seed sales (US$ millions) - % of global proprietary seed market
Top 10 Total - $14,785m - 67% of global proprietary seed market
Source: ETC Group
15.4 million farmers in 29 countries are now growing 148 million hectares of GM crops. The global gross production value of corn and soybean is over $290 billion, while the US share of that market is over $100 billion and over 90% of planted corn, soybean and cotton in US is genetically modified. The introduction of GMOs has allowed farmers to recover crop yield losses as well as save on cost of pesticides. In fact, it is estimated that just in 2010 the direct global farm income benefit from biotech crops was $14 billion. GMOs also contributed to the reduction in use of pesticide chemicals by farmers by 8%.
But abiotic stress, such as drought, salt and frost, can depress plant's natural yield potential even by 50% while 65% of cropland worldwide is affected by soil degradation due to factors such as desertification, and the gross annual income loss due to desertification and salinization exceeds $53 billion. FAO reports that agricultural land per capita in developing countries has declined by 40% (0.43 ha to 0.26 ha) in just 30 years, and further 6 million hectares are lost each year due to soil degradation. Just this year it is estimated that the 2012 drought will cost the US farmers over $12 billion in losses, yet thus far only Monsanto has announced an impending introduction of its first drought tolerant corn.
But developing new traits does not come cheaply. In 2008, the 15 leading companies in plant science spent $2.4 billion on seed trait R&D. It is not surprising, since on average it costs market leaders $136 million to discover, develop and take one trait through regulatory approvals. Market leaders estimate that the discovery process of one trait makes up about 23% of the total cost ($31 million per trait), and they have to screen about 6,200 gene discoveries or constructs before even one makes it through the regulatory approvals.
D-Helix is working to capitalize on that by developing and testing prototypes in crop plants that ever-express or under-express particular traits in order to improve crop yield. Furthermore, certain recently discovered MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of regulatory RNAs that will play a critical role in the next-generation transgenic plants, are also a part of the D-Helix portfolio.