Genetically Modified Crops and you 9/10

Genetically Modified Crops and you  9/10

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Between 1997 and 2005, the total surface area of land cultivated with GMOs had increased by a factor of 50, from 17,000 km2 (4.2 million acres) to 900,000 km2 (222 million acres).

Although most GM crops are grown in North America, in recent years there has been rapid growth in the area sown in developing countries. For instance in 2005 the largest increase in crop area planted to GM crops (soybeans) was in Brazil (94,000 km2 in 2005 versus 50,000 km2 in 2004.) There has also been rapid and continuing expansion of GM cotton varieties in India since 2002. (Cotton is a major source of vegetable cooking oil and animal feed.) It is predicted that in 2008/9 32,000 km2 of GM cotton will be harvested in India (up more than 100 percent from the previous season).

Indian national average cotton yields of GM cotton were seven times lower in 2002, because the parental cotton plant used in the genetic engineered variant was not well suited to the climate of India and failed. The publicity given to transgenic trait Bt insect resistance has encouraged the adoption of better performing hybrid cotton varieties, and the Bt trait has substantially reduced losses to insect predation. Though controversial and often disputed, economic and environmental benefits of GM cotton in India to the individual farmer have been documented.

In 2003, countries that grew 99% of the global transgenic crops were the United States (63%), Argentina (21%), Canada (6%), Brazil (4%), China (4%), and South Africa (1%). The Grocery Manufacturers of America estimate that 75% of all processed foods in the U.S. contain a GM ingredient. In particular, Bt corn, which produces the pesticide within the plant itself, is widely grown, as are soybeans genetically designed to tolerate glyphosate herbicides. These constitute “input-traits” are aimed to financially benefit the producers, have indirect environmental benefits and marginal cost benefits to consumers.

In the US, by 2006 89% of the planted area of soybeans, 83% of cotton, and 61% corn were genetically modified varieties. Genetically modified soybeans carried herbicide-tolerant traits only, but maize and cotton carried both herbicide tolerance and insect protection traits (the latter largely the Bacillus thuringiensis Bt insecticidal protein). In the period 2002 to 2006, there were significant increases in the area planted to Bt protected cotton and maize, and herbicide tolerant maize also increased in sown area.

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