Brazilian GM crop surge reported

| 23rd February 2010

GM maize in Brazil accounted for more than 60 per cent of the increase in GM crop production in 2009

Brazil becomes second biggest biotech grower after the US as industry predicts big increases in GM soybean, maize and cotton production in 2010

Brazil, Pakistan and Africa are predicted to see large increase in genetically modified (GM) crop production in 2010, according to the industry-funded group ISAAA.

The group's annual report revealed the total area of GM cultivation was up from 125 million in 2008 to 134 million hectares in 2009.

However, GM Maize production in Brazil accounted for more than 60 per cent of that increase and the total GM crop still covered just 2.7 per cent of all agricultural land.

GM cotton

Aside from Brazil, Burkina Faso's GM cotton area grew from 2 to 29 per cent of the country's total cotton area.

And India, which last week banned the planting of what would have been it's first GM food crop Bt brinjal, saw 8.4 million hectares of GM cotton planted in 2009.

           What do you think? Comment here

But in Europe the GM crop area fell as Germany, France, Austria, Greece, Hungary and Luxemburg all banned Monsanto's bt maize because of health and environmental concerns.

No new crops

The campaign group GM Freeze said globally the same six countries still dominated GM cropping with the US, Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada and China accounting for 95 per cent of all GM crops.

It said GM soybeans, maize, cotton and canola accounted for more than 99 per cent of all plantings demonstrating that, 'no new GM crops have been adopted on any scale since GM crops were first grown commercially'.

'The world continues to demand and rely on non-GM crops, while the GM industry continues mainly to produce animal feed and biofuels,' said GM Freeze campaigner Pete Riley.

'The ISAAA report reveals that in many countries the appeal of GM crops is waning, and the growth they claim is heavily dependent on a handful of countries,' he said.

Brazilian growth

For 2010, the ISAAA said it expected significant increases once again in GM soybean, maize and cotton production in Brazil. Pakistan, the fourth-largest cotton growing country, is also predicted to see the commercialisation of GM cotton.

The report also suggested that the Malawi, Kenya, Uganda and Mali would all adopt GM cotton and/or maize.

But GM Freeze said farmers should avoid 'expensive GM models'. A view backed by the work of US crop scientist Professor Jonathan Lynch who told a recent meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science that African farmers needed systems that required no 'fertilisation'.

'African farmers are poor and fertilisers take fossil fuels to manufacture. A pound of fertiliser in Malawi costs ten times more than it does in Europe. With an average daily wage of $.80 it is not realistic for African farmers to buy fertiler,' said Professor Lynch.

GM crop cultivation by country

United States 64.0 million ha.
Brazil 21.4 million ha.
Argentina 21.3 million ha.
India 8.4 million ha.
Canada 8.2 million ha.
China 3.7 million ha.
Paraguay 2.2 million ha.
South Africa 2.1 million ha.

Useful links

ISAAA report


India bans planting of first GM food crop
Campaigners welcome decision to put on hold cultivation of genetically modified (GM) aubergine crop, Bt Brinjal, until 'safety of product' established
Was 2009 the year the world turned against GM?
Despite promising the world in 2009, biotech corporations have increasingly raised the hackles of scientists and citizens worldwide
GM crops causing a rise in pesticide use in US
Early falls in pesticide use on GM crops in the United States have been replaced by rapid increases according to study
Public wants labelling of all GM food
UK citizens are confused by the current publicly available information on GM foods and want clearer facts made available in shops and supermarkets
Bill Jordan: I don't think organics will feed the world
Jordans cereals founder Bill Jordan says his company's method of farming can feed the world and safeguard biodiversity


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate here