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Genetically Modified Food Crop Plantings Now Exceed One Billion Hectares
Despite the widespred opposition to GM crops throughout the world, particularly in European countries, their onwards march and spread continues unabated. The total area of farmland throughout the world used for growing GM crops increased by about 10% in 2010.
The area planted to GM crops grew fastest in Brazil, but showed a small fall in the EU.
The dominant genetic modifications were herbicide tolerance and disease resistance.
More than a billion hectares have been planted with GM crops since being first introduced in 1996 (cumulative total). An estimated 15 million farmers are involved in GM agriculture throughout the world.
The accumulated commercial GM plantations now exceeded an area larger than either the US or China and the total global plantings reached 148 million hectares in 2009.
However this area is still just 10% of the world's arable land area as defined by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
About 50% of the global GM panted area is the US - although the recent trend is for developing countries to adopt the technology faster than industrialised one.
GM potato plants are spreading rapidly, and during 2010, Burma and Pakistan began growing GM cotton that is resistant to insect pests.
Germany and Sweden both allowed small plantings of a brand new GM potato variety that is not grown for food, but for producing high-quality starch for various industrial use. © janderson99-HubPages
While virtually all of the crops grown in 2010 were either engineered to be resistant to insect pests or tolerant to proprietary herbicides, there is a growing trend for both modification to be incorporated into single plants.
In the next five years, the type of GM crops grown will include many new types with enhanced nutrition, particularly so called "Golden Rice" that has enhanced levels of Vitamin A.
Golden rice is expected to be growth in 2013 in the Philippines and soon after in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam.
GM potatoes modified to resist late blight - the disease that caused the Irish potato famine will also be available soon.
GM modifications are
also being developed for sugar cane, eggplant, tomato, bananas, cassava,
sweet potato, and various pulse and groundnut crops.
Growing Resistance in the EU
There is growing resistance to the spread of GM crops throughout the world.
Greenpeace has presented a petition bearing more than a million signatures to the European Commission, demanding that the executive stop approving new GM varieties.
The plantings in the EU have declined.
© 2011 Dr. John Anderson