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Global GM crop area growing amid health debate

Global GM crop area growing amid health debate
MANILA - Genetically modified crops are expanding worldwide, with total area expected to reach 50 million hectares by year-end amid controversy over its effect on health and the environment, an independent biotech agency said yesterday. The total area planted to GM crops this year is 10 percent higher than last year, according to initial results of a global survey made by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications(ISAAA). \"Despite the ongoing debate on GM crops, particularly in countries of the European Union, millions of large and small farmers in both industrial and developing countries continue to increase their plantings of GM crops,\" ISAAA said in a statement issued by its South East Asia centre based in Los Banos, Laguna near Manila. ISAAA is an independent agency tracking the use of biotechnology in crops. Clive James, chairman of ISAAA, said global GM crop areas has increased 30 fold since 1996 when genetically modified crops were first grown commercially. It said the rapid expansion of such crops reflected \"grower satisfaction due to the significant and multiple benefits of GM crops.\" These benefits included less dependency of such crops on conventional pesticides, it said. \"In the early 1990s, many critics of biotechnology were sceptical that GM crops could deliver improved products and make an impact in the near-term at the farm level,\" the ISAAA report said. \"The experience of more than 15 countries including Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, South Africa and the USA during the last six years, 1996 to 2001, has demonstrated that the early promises of GM crops are meeting expectations in both industrial and developing worlds,\" it added. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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