18 January 2002

GM cropping area twice size of UK

GENETICALLY modified crops were grown on an area equivalent to almost twice the size of the UK last year, according to data from a US-based research centre.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications estimates that 52.6m ha (131.5m acres) was grown by 5.5m farmers in 13 countries, representing a 19% expansion on GM cropping in 2001.

Taken together, the four biggest producers grew 99% of the GM crop area, the US leading with 68% of the total, Argentina 22%, Canada 6% and China 3%.

Top GM crop was soya on 33m ha (82.5m acres), equivalent to almost two-thirds of the total. GM maize took 19%, cotton 13% and oilseed rape 5%.

Herbicide tolerance remains the most popular trait, accounting for 77% of the total, insect resistant Bt crops taking 15% and crops containing both accounting for 8%. &#42