The following is an excerpt of an article in the Financial Times about the global acceptance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Genetically modified crops are continuing to spread across the world’s agricultural land. Last year they covered a record 185m hectares, 3 per cent up on 2015. Experts are anticipating another small increase this year, though the authoritative annual GM survey by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) will not appear until next spring.
These modified crops are still distributed very unevenly. They are found predominantly in the western hemisphere.
The US and Canada are the heartland of biotech crops, while South American countries are adopting them rapidly — especially Brazil, where the GM area grew by 11 per cent to 49m hectares last year. Europe remains steadfast in its opposition to GM food, with just 136,000 hectares cultivated in the EU (0.07 per cent of the global total). While Asia was quick to adopt GM cotton, it too has been reluctant to accept GM foods.
“China has been very slow to approve GM products for many years,” says Erik Fyrwald, chief executive of Syngenta, the Swiss agricultural group that was recently bought by ChemChina. But he sees signs of change: recently, the Chinese government approved imports of some GM crop varieties and Mr Fyrwald expects approvals for cultivation in China to follow. Mr Fyrwald is not optimistic about a change of heart in Europe, however.
“In Europe we are unlikely to see GM crops for many years to come,” he says, because of intense opposition from consumers and environmental groups. “We’re not pushing [genetically modified organisms]. It is not our priority to spend money and effort to try to convince European consumers to encourage their politicians to start accepting GMOs,” Mr Fyrwald says. “We’re better off providing GM technology in countries that want it.”
To read the entire article, please visit the Financial Times.