Global crop production shifts, transgenic and hybrid seed technologies and changes in targeted plant populations helped increase the value of the global proprietary seed market to more than $17 billion in 2005. That is a 30 percent increase over the past five years, according to the latest edition of an extensive global seed market survey completed by The Context Network, a business management consulting service to the world’s leading agriculture, biotechnology and food companies.

“Expanded plantings of oilseed crops and maize (corn) and the continued adoption of biotech seed are two mega trends that are pushing up the value of and importance of proprietary commercial seed globally,” says Mark Nelson, a consultant with The Context Network. “These two trends have had the most significant impact on the growth of the global seed market.”

The Context Network survey shows that while the total area planted to grain crops has remained largely unchanged over the past five years, there have been significant increases in plantings of oilseed and maize crops. The firm found that the amount of land planted to soybeans increased 13.1 percent (20 million hectares) and maize or corn plantings increased 7.3 percent (7 million hectares) which offset decreases in the area planted to sorghum, millet, oats, barley and other cereals.

While the survey found there are many factors contributing to increases in the adoption of proprietary seed throughout the world, other factors have limited growth and adoption. These include reduction in targeted plant populations, the practice of farmer-saved seed, country exchange rates, tenuous political policies regarding the use of biotech seed and inability to secure plant variety protection.

The study assessed changes in biotechnology values by crop segments. “Soybean, maize and cotton technologies now represent 95 percent of global biotech trait value,” says Nelson. “Soybean herbicide-resistant technology value remains the lead segment and we estimate it accounts for more than $800 million of the global seed market value. The value of maize biotech traits surpassed the value of cotton biotech traits to make maize the number two biotech crop in the world in 2005.”

The Context Network, which is based in Des Moines, Iowa, conducted more than 200 interviews with industry experts to compile the 2006 Global Seed Market Database. The Global Seed Market Database is a uniquely designed electronic resource that provides market value and acreage estimates of the worldwide seed market. The database provides information on planting rates, commercial seed sales, public seed use, farmer-saved seed and GMO seed sales for 48 crops in 230 countries categorized by six different regions; Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America. More information about the report can be found at http://www.contextnet.com/ and clicking on Multiclient Reports or by calling 515-225-2204.