Public rejection of GM affects biotech firms
PUBLIC resistance to genetically modified (GM) crops has ensured the area grown in Europe in 2011 remained at 0.1 per cent of all arable land, figures released today by Friends of the Earth Europe show.
In comparison, organic farming accounted for 3.7 per cent.
The figures follow recent announcements of the biotech industry retreating from parts of Europe.
Food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, Mute Schimpf, said: “The public’s rejection of GM crops has ensured that they are confined to small pockets of the European Union.
“Politicians need to listen to public opinion and throw their weight behind the demand for greener and safer farming. GM crops should play no role in the future of Europe’s farming.”
Last month the world’s biggest chemical company, BASF, announced it was halting the development and commercialisation of GM crops in Europe.
It said its decision was due to, ‘lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe – from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians’.
But ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications), said the outlook for GM indicated global growth.
Author of the annual biotech crop report, Clive James, said: “Unprecedented adoption rates are testimony to overwhelming trust and confidence in biotech crops by millions of farmers worldwide.
“Since biotech crop commercialisation in 1996, farmers in 29 countries worldwide made more than 100 million decisions to plant and replant more than 1.25 billion hectares - an area of crop land 25 per cent larger than the total land mass of the United States or China.”
ABC chairman Dr Julian Little added: “Today’s figures show how farmers in the developing world are choosing biotech crops as a way of increasing their incomes, boosting yields and reducing their impact on the environment. These results smash once and for all, the myth that agricultural biotechnology is just about large prairie farmers in North and South America. This is a technology that works for any type of farmer, big or small, resource–poor or technology-rich.
Dr Andrea Graham from the NFU, said UK farmers were being put at a massive disadvantage.
“This impacts on their competitiveness in the global market whilst also preventing us from having the opportunity to explore the potential environmental benefits and other positive traits this technology can offer,” she said.
“We urgently need a science-based decision-making process on biotech crops in Europe to allow UK farmers to have access to this technology as part of their toolbox in meeting the challenges of the present and the future.”