Growth of biotech crops plateaus in U.S., climbs in Asia -report
By Carey Gillam
Feb 13 (Reuters) - The growth of biotech crops in the United States appears to have hit a plateau, but farmers are accelerating plantings of genetically modified corn and rice in Asia, notably China, although it still remains a much smaller market, according to an industry report issued Thursday.
Farmers around the world grew a record 175.2 million hectares (433 million acres) of biotech crops in 2013, up 3 percent from 2012, with American and Brazilian farmers continuing to be the dominant users, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a pro-biotech industry organization.
Critics of GMO crops accuse the ISAAA of inflating figures in the European Union and developing countries to show growing support for biotech crops. Particularly in the European Union, opponents of biotech crops say they lead to increased pesticide use and environmental damage and have not been proven safe for human and animal consumption.
Backers say the crops are no different to normal crops.
"Biotech crops are demonstrating their global value as a tool for resource-poor farmers who face decreased water supplies and increased weed and pest pressures - and the effects of climate change will only continue to expand the need for this technology," said ISAAA Chairman Clive James in a statement.
Farmers in the United States planted an estimated 70.1 million hectares, or 173 million acres, last year with corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa and other crops that have all been genetically altered, the report said. That was up less than 1 percent over 2012 plantings.
In Brazil, farmers planted 40.3 million hectares, or 99.5 million acres to biotech soy, corn and cotton, up 10 percent over 2012, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a pro-biotech industry organization that annually releases a survey of biotech crop plantings around the world.