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Biotech crop area expands 10 percent in 2010: Report

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 25-Feb-2011

Global area planted with biotech crops increased by 10 percent last year to reach 148m hectares, making it the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture, according to a new analysis.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit organization which promotes the adoption of biotech crops, said in its new report that the United States still uses more genetically modified (GM) seeds than any other country, but Brazil had the largest increase for the second year running, with area planted to biotech crops rising 19 percent in 2010.

Commercial planting of GM crops began in 1996, with 1.7m hectares planted that year, and over 15 years of cultivation, the total area devoted to GM crops increased 87-fold, to reach 148m hectares in 2010. ISAAA said that adoption rates in developing nations exceeded those in industrialized countries last year and it expects the trend to continue.

“Developing countries grew 48 percent of global biotech crops in 2010 and will exceed industrialized nations in their plantings of biotech crops by 2015,” said ISAAA chairman and founder Clive James. “Clearly, the countries of Latin America and Asia will drive the most dramatic increases in global hectares planted to biotech crops during the remainder of the technology’s second decade of commercialization.”

Nineteen of the 29 countries that have adopted biotech crops are developing nations, where area devoted to biotech crops grew at a rate of 17 percent over 2009, the report said, compared to five percent growth in industrialized countries.

For the first time, the top ten biotech-growing countries all planted more than one million hectares of GM crops in 2010. They were the United States, which planted 66.8m hectares, Brazil (25.4), Argentina (22.9), India (9.4), Canada (8.8), China (3.5), Paraguay (2.6), Pakistan (2.4), South Africa (2.2) and Uruguay (1.1), the report said.

The United States grows more varieties of GM crops than any other country, including maize, soybeans, cotton, canola, sugarbeet, alfalfa, papaya and squash.

The report is available online here .

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