90 percent of genetically modified crops in developing world

February 19th, 2008 - 3:07 pm ICT by admin  

By Luisa Massarani
Manila, Feb 19 (IANS) Ninety percent of farmers growing genetically modified (GM) crops are in developing countries, according to a report. The report, by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), said that GM crops were grown by 11 million small farmers in 2007 - 90 percent of the GM-growing farmers worldwide.

This was an increase of 18.3 percent from 2006, when some 9.3 million small farmers were represented, Scidev.net reported.

In terms of area, the biggest GM producer is still the US, followed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India and China.

“With increasing food prices globally, the benefits of biotech crops have never been more important,” said Clive James, co-author of the report and chairman of ISAAA, a non-profit organisation that promotes biotechnology for the poor.

According to the report, 23 countries - 12 of which were developing nations - planted GM crops in 2007, on 114.3 million hectares worldwide. Of the total, 43 percent of the crop area was in developing countries.

Brazil saw the largest absolute increase in area under GM crop cultivation in 2007 - 3.5 million hectares - retaining its position as the third largest adopter of GM crops with an estimated 15 million hectares.

Earlier, environmental organisation Friends of the Earth released a report that differs from ISAAA findings.

Friends of the Earth say GM crops are not alleviating hunger and poverty. They argue that the majority of GM crops are not aimed at the poor and are instead used for animal feed, biofuels and highly processed food products for consumption in rich countries.

Their report also points out that GM crops designed to be herbicide tolerant have spawned herbicide-resistant weeds in Argentina, Brazil and the US, thereby encouraging greater use of chemicals to control them.

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