London (UPI) Feb 22, 2011
The amount of the world's farmland utilized for growing genetically modified crops increase by about 10 percent last year, a biotechnology organization says.
The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications says it calculates more than 2.5 billion acres have been cultivated with GM crops since their introduction in 1996, the BBC reported Tuesday.
ISAAA is an organization partly funded by industry that promotes biotechnology in agriculture.
"We can recount a momentous year of progress in biotech crop adoption," said Clive James, ISAAA chairman and founder.
However, critics of GM crops say this is still just 10 percent of the world's arable land area as defined by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Greenpeace, opposed to GM crop introduction, has presented a petition to the European Commission demanding it stop approving new GM varieties.
"Today's European data show that GM crops are failing in the field and on the market; farmers and consumers are not falling for biotech industry propaganda," Greenpeace EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer said.
"GM crops are not more productive and are less resistant to extreme climate conditions than normal crops," she said. "They do, however, present a serious risk for our environment."
Virtually all the GM strains being grown worldwide have been engineered for just two traits: disease resistance and herbicide tolerance, the BBC reported.
earlier related report
A European Commission proposal to end import restrictions on animal foodstuffs containing traces of GM crops, up to a 0.1-percent threshold, was slammed as "overturning the EU's 'zero tolerance' policy," by Friends of the Earth expert Mute Schimpf.
France obtained a change which will mean only GM crops that have already been given the go-ahead by European Union food security experts would be allowed to enter the food chain in this way.
The commission more broadly wants restrictions by national authorities on GM crop cultivation removed because they flout World Trade Organization rules but it faces a legal maze of opposition within the EU largely due to greater consumer concerns than in the United States.
Schimpf said that "weakening safety rules to appease the animal feed industry compromises human and environmental safety."
The European Parliament has still to have its say on Tuesday's decision, within a three-month deadline.
Greenpeace slammed the decision on the same grounds, arguing that "contamination" will be all the greater because the EU imports animal feed massively from the United States, Brazil and Argentina, countries responsible for 80 percent of global GM cultivation.
A top US trade official said earlier this month she would bang down the door of the commission in a bid to break the longstanding impasse blocking the advance of genetically-modified foods.
"When Europeans come to the United States, they come and enjoy our cuisine with no concerns whatsoever," Deputy US Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro said.
"Why should we have different standards in Europe?
"We have very strict safety standards -- as do you -- and I think that alone is good reason to make sure that our products are able to be sold in Europe," she insisted.
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Brussels (AFP) Feb 22, 2011
Crops containing tiny traces of genetically modified produce will be allowed to enter the European food chain for the first time under plans approved by EU governments Tuesday and attacked by environmental campaigners. A European Commission proposal to end import restrictions on animal foodstuffs containing traces of GM crops, up to a 0.1-percent threshold, was slammed as "overturning the EU ... read more
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