GM crops: staggering growth helps fight food insecurity – but is Europe doing its part?
Brussels22 February 2011
GM crops are being grown on over 1 billion hectares worldwide thanks in part to their higher yields. This news arrives immediately after the G20 meeting, where food security was high on the agenda. Moreover, high-level reports such as the recent Foresight report on The Future of Food and Farming, have shown that agriculture will need to produce far more food in the coming years. European farmers could contribute even more to the fight against food insecurity if they had access to all the options that exist for farmers elsewhere.
The latest figures on GM crop cultivation underline the commitment of farmers worldwide to employ technological breakthroughs to meet the world’s need for food, while also decreasing carbon emissions, saving water, and gaining economic benefits.
According to the latest reportby the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) in 2010, 15.4 million farmers planted over 148 million hectares of biotech crops in 29 countries, up by 10 % from 2009, when there were 14 million farmers and 134 million hectares.
In Europe, the number of countries cultivating GM crops increased from 6 in 2009 to 8 in 2010, thanks to the authorization of a GM potato that is cultivated for industrial use by farmers in Sweden, Germany and Czech Republic. The number of hectares of the only other authorized GM crop in Europe, an insect-resistant GM maize, decreased slightly in Europe from 94,750 hectares in 2009 to 91,643 hectares, because of lower overall maize plantings.
Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, EuropaBio’s Director for Agricultural Biotechnology asserted, “The figures released today are excellent news for farmers and consumers worldwide. And yet, European farmers are only allowed to grow two GM crops, while farmers in the Americas are allowed to grow 30+ GM crops. This is a sad and unfair situation for European farmers.”
David Hill, a UK farmer, commented, “I am always looking for new ways to improve my crop yields sustainably - both on an economic and environmental level. This is the case for farmers across the world, as the reality is that we need to meet the demands of global food supply whilst looking after the environment we live in. GM crops have to be part of our toolkit in Europe, like elsewhere in the world. Farmers want politicians to look beyond what the anti-GM groups say and put the need to produce food sustainably at the heart of the policy making agenda.”
- The Future of Food and Farming (Foresight report), 23 January
- Global food system must be transformed 'on industrial revolution scale, The Guardian, 24 January
- France makes high food prices priority of G20, BusinessWeek, 4 February
- Video: 7 billion, National Geographic Magazine, January 201
- GM Benefits, December 2010
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