Useful summary on the expansion globally during 2006 of GMOs or biotech crops (as the Americans call them). While having a rough time of it here in Europe the Americans have pressed ahead elsewhere, concentrating on poor smallholding farmers in developing countries.
Some summary information;
1. The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) just released its annual “brief” on growth of genetically engineered crops (“biotech crops”) worldwide, covering 2006. ISAAA is a not-for-profit organization created in the 1990s with the intention of transferring and delivering “appropriate biotechnology applications” to developing countries in the name of alleviating poverty, increasing crop production and income generation for resource-poor farmers while protecting the environment and promoting sustainable agricultural development. Donors include aid agencies such as USAID, DANIDA, GTZ and SIDA, private foundations such as the McKnight and Rockefeller Foundations, corporations such as Bayer CropScience, Cargill, Monsanto, Nestle, Novartis, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Syngenta, and he UN Environment Programme (UNEP). ISAAA’s Americas Center is located at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
In other words this organisation is serving as a front for biotech companies to expand their technology throughout the developing world. No doubt the same companies who practise seed control over farmers in these developing countries.
2. Doing the business in 2006;
Total Global Value of Biotech/GMO Crops 2006 = $6.15 billion
of which; soyabean $2.68 billion (44%)
maize $2.39 billion (39%)
cotton $0.87 billion (14%)
canola $0.21 billion ( 3%)
While the US and India were first and second in terms of greatest new acreage planted with biotech crops, Brazil was third (with 2.1 million new hectares in 2006) and Argentina tied for fourth with South Africa (at 0.9 million new hectares apiece).
Of the 10.3 million farmers, 90% were small, resource-poor farmers in developing countries.
Since 1996 51 countries have granted regulatory approvals for biotech crop imports for food and feed use and for deliberate release into the environment. Among the list of top approvers, only one is from LAC (Mexico). A total 539 approvals have been granted for 107 events for 21 crops. Genetically engineered maize is the most approved event (35), followed by cotton (19), canola (14) and soybean (7).
4. Claimed benefits;
Since the start of commercialization of biotech crops in 1996, herbicide tolerance has been the dominant trait, at 68% of global biotech crops (principally soybean, maize, canola, cotton and alfalfa), followed by insect resistance (19%, mostly Bt crops) and stacked genes (13%) for the two traits. Stacked-trait products is the fastest-growing category.
Interestingly biotech companies are also making the case for helping reduce agriculture’s contribution to global climate change. See more on this here. The USDA’s (US Dept Agriculture’s) Foreign Agricultural Service is involved with spreading the technology worldwide.