The Global Blight of Genetically Modified Crops
January 24, 2006
Ever since genetically modified crops were first planted, their acreage has been growing each year at double-digit rates.
It happened again last year, with acres planted increasing 11 percent, to 222 million acres. Small farmers in countries such as China, India, and Brazil are making more use of GMO plants that allow them to grow more crops while reducing pesticide use.
Rice is Next
Rice could be the next important food crop to go GMO; Iran is already using gene-altered rice and China is poised to do so next. Rice comprises nearly half the total calories eaten by the human race.
Nearly a third of the agricultural land in the United States is planted in gene-altered crops. In Argentina and Paraguay, more than half of the fields are sown with GMO plants. In China, perhaps 2,000 scientists are developing a wide variety of modified crops.
Europe, where advocacy groups have long pointed out the environmental risks of GMO crops, has been slower to adopt them. However, five European countries are now growing some biotech crops, and Spain uses them widely.