Spreading crops

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There were 102 million hectares of commercially grown transgenic (or genetically-modified) crops worldwide in 2006. In 1996 that total stood at 1.7 million hectares. These figures come from the international agribiotech concern, ISAAA, which notes that soybean, maize, cotton and canola are still the main transgenic crops, and herbicide tolerance and insect resistance the dominant traits.

Some 61 million hectares were grown in 11 developed countries in 2006, compared with 41 million hectares in 11 developing countries–ten years earlier GM crops were grown in just six countries.The US heads the field, with 53% of the total, then Argentina with 18%, Brazil with 11% and Canada with 6%. India and China had 4% and 3% respectively. Some transgenic crops are also cultivated in OECD members Australia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Mexico, Portugal, Slovak Republic and Spain. The estimated worldwide value was US$6.15 billion, or about a fifth of the global seed market, the ISAAA remarks.Click here for larger graph.Meanwhile, R&D is being conducted on many other field crops, vegetables and fruits in over 60 countries. The effects of transgenic organisms on the environment and food and feed safety has long been a policy concern at the OECD, where the Working Group for Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology involves several non-OECD countries. See BioTrack Online at www.oecdobserver.org/biotrackonline or via www.oecd.org/biotechnology. For more data, visit the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications at www.isaaa.org©OECD Observer No 263, October 2007

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