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Assessment & Impacts » Ecological

Title: Non-GM Crops Dominate in World Agriculture
Source: GM Freeze
Publication date: June 17, 2008
Posting date: June 19, 2008

 

Non-GM Crops Dominate in World Agriculture
GM Freeze, 17 June 2008

Non-GM crops bred using traditional plant breeding methods still provide most of the food and animal feed in the world, covering more than 97% of agricultural land [1] compared with only 2.4% growing GM crops.
The new analysis [2] was carried out by GM Freeze after media reports claimed 25% of global arable land was under GM crops - a figure obtained from the National Environmental Research Council's website [3].
The GM Freeze analysis shows that in fact over 90% of global arable land [4] is used to cultivate non-GM crops. Even in the USA, where GM crops have been widely adopted, over 85% of agricultural land is growing non-GM crops and two thirds of arable land grew non-GM crops in 2007.
Two countries, Argentina and Paraguay, are over dependent on GM crops to the point that sustainable production is under threat. GM Freeze's analysis raises serious concerns about the dominance of Monsanto's GM RR soya (genetically engineered to tolerate the company's top selling weedkiller RoundUp (glyphosate)). In Argentina, 99% of soya production is GM and glyphosate resistant weeds now appear in fields over considerable areas. The data reveal that 85% of Paraguayan arable land is under RR soya, suggesting that little by way of arable rotations are being practiced - a vital component of long-term soil health and productivity.
Recently the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) Report [5] called for a rethink in agricultural research to build on the knowledge of farmers, especially women, to improve farming systems with an agro-ecological approach designed to produce high quality food, without damaging soils, other natural resources and biodiversity while at the same time playing a key role in mitigating against climate change.
Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
"Our analysis clearly shows just how important non-GM cultivation is in world agriculture. This is likely to remain the case for years to come, and there is an urgent need for Governments to increase funding for research and development in traditional farming, including plant breeding led by farmers.
"Official obsessions with GM crops are leading us into oil dependent monocultures and dangerous reliance on the huge seed and chemical corporations behind GM crops. Our analysis shows that despite billions spent in GM research and development, non-GM crops remain dominant around the world and offer the best hope of a sustainable future."

ENDS

Notes
1. Agricultural land includes all land used for arable crops, permanent crops such as fruit trees and forage land (grasslands)
2. See www.gmfreeze.org/uploads/GM_crops_land_area_final.pdf
3. The NERC webpage has now been taken down following representations by Friends of the Earth. A copy of the original site can be obtained from Friends of the Earth or GM Freeze.
4. Arable land is that used to grow annual crops re-sown each year such as wheat, rice and soya.
5. See www.agassessment.org/docs/Global_SDM_050508_FINAL.pdf

 

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