Press release

Spanish farmers lead in the cultivation of GM maize

1 out of 3 hectares cultivated with GM maize.

Madrid, October 16, 2014. - The commitment of Spanish farmers to genetically modified maize seeds, as a means to protecting themselves against corn borer plagues, has remained strong throughout 2014, a year in which practically 1 out of every 3 hectares was cultivated with this type of crop. A total of 131,538 hectares were sowed in 2014 with Bt maize varieties offered by the 8 companies that offer these varieties in their commercial catalogues. This represents a growth of 0.4% when compared to the total grain maize sowed in Spain (31.6%) during the previous year (31.2%). The total surface area of sowed maize has decreased during 2014, probably as a result of the low prices and weather conditions. This has been ascertained from the latest information provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA) in relation to surfaces sowed with maize in Spain during 2014.

The total amount of maize sowed during 2014 has been 416,740 hectares, 22,688 less than in 2013. Therefore, despite the generalised drop in maize sowing, the growing commitment to genetically modified seeds remains stable and this confirms the interest of Spanish farmers in the use of a clean and safe technology to protect their maize harvests in a highly competitive European and international environment.

Aragónis another year the autonomous community with the largest surface area of Bt maize sowed, with 54,040 hectares. It is followed by Catalonia (36,381 hectares), Extremadura (13,814 hectares) and Andalusia (10,692 hectares). The largest increases have been in Catalonia and Navarra, with 614 and 251 more hectares than in 2013, respectively.

Since 1998, the commitment of Spanish farmers to cultivating Bt maize is proof of their trust and the economic, environmental and social benefits of these varieties for putting into practice a more sustainable farming approach, increasing the crop production while reducing the consumption of resources per unit of production (less soil, less water and less energy). It is estimated that if European farmers could cultivate GM varieties approved in competing countries, they could earn additional revenues, ranging from €443M to €929M per year.

HOW DATA IS GATHERED

The data about cultivated surfacespublished each year by the MAGRAMA is based on the estimates of hectares sowed, according to the sale of seeds by different companies that market the registered varieties. These companies must submit these figures to the Ministry and autonomous communities every year. This formula is appropriate, since the surplus maize seeds must be harvested during the end of each campaign to guarantee their adequate conservation and, therefore, no surplus seeds need to be stored by farmers or selling points.

The Bt maize cultivation surface figures offered by some organisations are based on the data provided by the autonomous communities, which are based on the declarations of farmers for the CAP single flat-rate payment. The varieties sowed do not have to be declared in this procedure in most autonomous communities, so that this data is incomplete and incorrect.

Bt MAIZE in SPAIN

Spanish farmers have shown their commitment to genetically modified maize cultivated in Spain since 1998, driven by the efficacy and safety of such a crop, which is confirmed in the Annual Follow-up Plans.

Cultivation of Bt maize has greatly reduced the Spanish maize imports by over 853 tonnes between 1998 and 2013, resulting in savings of €156M. A key contribution to Spanish foreign trade, which is loss-making for this crop.

This crop also achieved a surplus production of 853,201 tonnes during its first 15 years. Achieving such a surplus production volume with conventional crops would have required an increase in the crop growing surface with an aggregate water cost of 490,126 thousand m3. This quantity of water is equivalent to an annual supply for 59 cities with 10,000 inhabitants.

GM CROPS IN THE WORLD

The European Union currently depends on imports to feed its citizens and, in many cases, it imports GM products banned within its frontiers. Such a position has no scientific backup and it puts European farmers in an unequal position against its competitors, which leads to a loss of competitiveness of their farms.

The European Union continues to be lagged behind in the commitment to agricultural biotechnology. In 2013, a total of 148,031 hectares were sowed with biotechnological seeds in Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.

The Spanish production of maize does not cater to the internal consumption needs and approximately 6 million tonnes of maize have to be imported every year (over half of the total consumption). However, the improvement in the production per local hectare resulting from lower losses caused by the corn borer plagues has improved the balance of trade for this cereal and reduced the dependence on imports.

In global terms, the surface area cultivated with GM crops reached 175.2 million hectares in 2013, with 18 million farmers. Over 90% of the farmers that showed their commitment to GM seeds (16,5 million) were small-scale farmers in developing countries.

 

Official data of the web page of MAGRAMA:

http://www.magrama.gob.es/es/calidad-y-evaluacion-ambiental/temas/biotec...

 

MORE INFORMATION:

Soledad de Juan / Managing Director of Fundación Antama/ +34 915.714.640 / 654.51.27.91 / soledad.dejuan@fundacion-antama.org