The use of biotech crops in 2007 has increased considerably in the developing world, according to a report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, an industry-supported non-profit service that promotes the use of biotechnology to alleviate poverty and hunger around the world.
More and more land will be devoted to genetically engineered foods, especially rice, as scientists make advances and regulators approve new products, according to the report. This has resulted that farmers in 12 developing countries planted biotech crops in 2007, for the first time exceeding the number of industrialised countries where such crops are grown.
US and Argentina dominate
US farms continued to dominate biotech agriculture with more than 142 million acres devoted to engineered crops, led by soy. The country also saw the planting of biotech corn spike 40% above the 2006 level to nearly 20 million acres, driven mainly by the demand for ethanol.
Argentina led developing countries with about 47.2 million acres of biotech corn, soy and cotton. It was second only to the US in total acreage and followed by Brazil, which had just over 37 million acres of biotech cotton and soy. India grew 15.3 million acres of genetically engineered cotton in 2007, its only biotech crop. Spain ranked highest among European countries with about 173,000 acres of genetically engineered corn but 12th overall, behind Paraguay, South Africa, Uruguay and the Philippines.
Europe is resistant
European countries have been among the most resistant to genetically engineered crops, where health and environmental concerns have long kept them out of farmers’ fields. According to the report, eight out of 27 European countries planted biotech crops in 2007, up from six the previous year, totalling about 260,000 acres.