Developing and emerging countries lead in the global adoption of GM crops

EuropaBio Agricultural Biotechnology


Brussels, 20 February, 2013 - For the first time since 1996, the areas planted with genetically-modified (GM) crops in emerging and developing countries exceed those of industrialized countries.  According to the latest annual report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) revealed today, global adoption of GM crops increased by 6% to reach 170.3 million hectares.

“Today’s release of new data on global adoption of GM crops shows that GM technology brings positive outcome for more than 17 million of farmers worldwide, by increasing productivity of food production, improving farmers’ income and securing food supply in a sustainable way”, commented Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, EuropaBio’s Director for Agricultural Biotechnology.

Among the emerging countries leading the way on GM crops, Brazil has seen an increase of 21% compared to 2011 with a total of 36.6 million hectares. Argentina follows with 23.9 million hectares. New countries are now cultivating GM crops with Sudan and Cuba having planted GM crops for the first time in 2012. African countries with commercial planting of GM crops include South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Sudan.

In Europe, five EU countries (Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania) planted 129,071 hectares of biotech Bt maize, up 13% from 2011. The largest increase comes from Spain with 116,307 hectares of GM maize grown in 2012. “The new figures for Europe do not come as a surprise; the EU regulatory process and political stalemate do not allow European farmers access to a technology that is becoming common standard elsewhere”, said Mr du Marchie Sarvaas. “What is important here is that with the increased adoption of GM crops in major exporting countries like Brazil, European leaders face an urgent need to ensure that European food and feed producers reliant upon imported biotech products can count on efficient, science-based approvals—a process that is currently dysfunctional”, he added.

Governments in the north and south Americas operate more efficient authorisation systems, and have decided to accelerate further. Without improved predictability through a more efficiently functioning approval system in Europe, the food industry, commodity traders, and livestock farmers will face even greater challenges in the future. For animal feed alone, if there are trade disruptions due to GM products approved elsewhere but not yet in Europe, a 2010 European Commission report estimated disruptions of trade flow of agricultural commodities could cost up to € 9.6 billion.


Additional Resources:

EuropaBio’s brochure: Science not Fiction: Time to think Again about GM – REVISED VERSION. Please note that two quotes have been revised since the initial launch of the brochure few weeks ago:

On page 4: A senior representative of Oxfam at a 2012 conference of the Soil Association stated that despite being a contentious challenge to both organisations and a shared concern: “… there are a lot of genetic modifications – which (are) going to be, I believe, necessary over the next period. … So why is it a problem for the organic movement to use marker genes, to be able to move high-resource  efficiency, high soil nutrient efficiency from one wheat variety in the space  of 1 year rather than doing it in 15 years.” You can view the quote at  starting minute 13.10.or

On Page 19: Charles Secrett, Former Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, 2011 stated: “Absolutist positions do not hold up for the majority. Because of climate change, this probably includes total opposition to nuclear power and GM products globally.”  The previous quote had been incorrectly attributed to him.The above quote comes from a public letter he wrote to the green movement in 2011.

Should you require the brochure in another EU language, please do not hesitate to contact us. It will soon be made available online in French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian and Polish.


For further information, please contact:

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas

Director, Green Biotechnology Europe


Tel: +32 2 739 11 85
Mobile: +32 473 890 359


Nilsy Desaint

Communications Manager, Green Biotechnology Europe


Tel: +32 2 739 11 62
Mobile: +32 473 334 875

About EuropaBio

EuropaBio is the European Association for Bioindustries, bringing together bioscience companies from all fields of research and development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology products. It has 56 corporate members, 14 associate members and Bio Regions and 19 National Biotechnology Associations- representing some 1800 small and medium sized enterprises across Europe. 

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