Global plantings of genetically crops rose by 8% in 2011 taking the total area of biotech crops in the world to 160m ha, according to latest statistics.


Figures releases by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications reveal that over 16.7m farmer in 29 countries planted GM crops during 2011.

The organisation, which is pro-GMs, said since the introduction of genetically modified crops sixteen years’ ago there had been a 94-fold increase in the hectarage grown.

This made them “the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture”.

Clive James, founder of the ISAAA, said: “Unprecedented adoption rates are testimony to overwhelming trust and confidence in biotech crops by millions of farmers worldwide.

“Since biotech crop commercialization in 1996, farmers in 29 countries worldwide made more than 100 million decisions to plant and replant more than 1.25 billion hectares – an area of crop land 25% larger than the total land mass of the United States or China.”

The ISAAA report shows that there are now 10 countries growing more than 1m ha of GM crops and more than half the world’s population (60%) lives in one of the 29 countries where they are cultivated.

See the chart below to view the area of GM crops grown globally by country (figures expressed in million tonnes). Hover over the bars to get an exact figure.   

The country growing the biggest area of genetically modified crops is the US (69 ma ha) with Brazil (30.3m ha) and Argentina 923.7m ha) in second and third place.

But green campaigners in the UK have hit out at the figures, pointing to the fact that the adoption of GM crops in Europe is comparatively low. The European country growing the biggest area of GM crops is Spain (0.1 m ha) and the total area of GMs in Europe is estimated at just over 110,000ha.

Friends of the Earth said that public resistance to GM crops has ensured that the area grown in Europe in 2011 remained at 0.1% of all arable land. In comparison, organic farming accounted for 3.7%.

Greenpeace added that the uptake of GMs in Europe was so low they could only be described as a failure.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said: “There is no escaping the hard facts: GM food has flopped in Europe, is increasingly opposed in Asia and is retreating to the Americas.”