USDA’s Economic Research Service says genetically engineered seeds were commercially introduced in the U.S. for major field crops in 1996, and adoption rates increased rapidly.
By 2008, more than 50 percent of U.S. corn, cotton, and soybean acres were planted with genetically engineered seeds. The total acres with GE seeds has grown even further, with now more than 90 percent of U.S. corn, upland cotton, and soybeans produced using GE varieties. Genetically engineered crops are broadly classified as herbicide-tolerant (HT), insect-resistant (Bt), or a combination of the two.
While other traits like virus and fungus resistance, drought tolerance, and enhanced protein oil or vitamin content have been developed, HT and Bt traits are the most commonly used in U.S. crop production.
Herbicide-tolerant seeds are also widely used in alfalfa, canola, and sugar beet production, but most of the GE acres are planted to the three major field crops: corn, cotton, and soybeans.