GMO Farming is slowing down
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
The annual rise of biotech cultivation grew last year at its slowest pace since 1996, when U.S. farmers sowed their first crop of genetically modified soybeans for sale on the open market, according to a report published Wednesday. Last year 22 million acres (5.4 million hectares) were added to the global pool of fields under biotech cultivation, raising the total to 222 million acres (54.6 million hectares) tended by 8.5 million farmers in 21 countries, said a report by the pro GMO organisation International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, a nonprofit biotech foundation, according to The Business Online.
Experts attributed the slowdown to some countries nearing saturation point in their use of herbicide-resistant and insect-resistant seeds, as other countries hesitate to use the seeds over health and environmental concerns. About 90 % of Australian cotton, at least 80 % of U.S. soybeans and 90 % of soybeans in Argentina are genetically modified. Europe is one of the most resistant regions, limiting commercial biotech cultivation to about 100,000 hectares across five countries.
So far, only Iran - which joined the world's commercial GMO crop growers in 2005 - grows commercial biotech rice. China delayed licensing biotech rice twice in recent months. Emerging economies such as China, Brazil, Argentina and India are likely to be the greatest growth regions for the use of biotech foods, ISAAA founder and chairman Clive James told journalists during a conference call. While Brazil posted the largest rise of GMO fields in 2005, China looks set to be a vast growth region, thanks to Beijing's massive investments in research.
In addition to Iran, France, Portugal and the Czech Republic began growing biotech crops last year. Environmental group Friends of the Earth Europe attacked ISAAA's report as "pure propaganda" for the biotech industry. "In 10 years of biotech farming, they have done nothing for consumers, nothing to protect the environment and nothing to alleviate poverty and hunger," said Adrian Beeb, a spokesman for the group. Biotech firms have taken some knocks recently. An Indian cotton-growing region has banned Monsanto seeds and is taking the company to court after the company's cotton seeds delivered low cotton yields.