GM plantings hit record high

World plantings of genetically-modified crops have hit one 1bn hectares, according to an annual study.

Plantings rose by 10% in 2010 after more than 15m farmers across 29 countries used the crops.

The figures, released by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, found 10 developed countries – including eight in the EU – planted GM crops last year.

But the report found that over 90% of farmers using the technology were “resource-poor” and in developed countries.

The United States saw the most plantings with 66.8m ha, followed by Brazil (25.4m), Argentina (22.9m) and India (9.4m).

Herbicide tolerant soya bean was the most commonly-planted crop, occupying 73.3m ha (50%) of global GM planting areas.

In the EU, 91.1m ha of MON 18 was planted in 2010 – a fall of just over 3000 ha on the previous year – with Spain the largest grower of the GM crop.

Clive James, ISAAA chairman, said the results showed 2010 was a “momentous year of progress” for plant biotechnology.

Dr Julian Little, chairman of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, added that the statistics underlined the crucial role agricultural biotechnology was playing in delivering sustainable global food supplies.

But he slammed the European approvals system for failing to give farmers in the EU the opportunity to take advantage of all the plant technologies available.

“If Europe is to play its part in meeting the global requirement for more food at an affordable price, then regulators must take the opportunities presented by biotech crops seriously and allow farmers to choose modern, science-based methods of cultivation, including GM,” he said.

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