Global GMO Acreage Falls for First Time
Global acreage of GMO crops declined for the first time on record last year according to a recent report issued by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). Overall, GMO corn, cotton, soybeans, canola, and other crops were sown on 179.7 million hectares across 28 countries last year, compared to 181.5 million hectares in 2014.
Biotech acreage remained steady or was lower in eight out the ten top producing countries. The decline was led by a reduction of 2.2 million hectares in the U.S., which has seen significant expansion of GMO acreage since their launch onto the market two decades ago. China also saw a year on year reduction in biotech cotton acreage of 200,000 hectares – leaving the country with total biotech acreage of 3.7 million hectares. China currently bans the planting of biotech corn and soybeans, however ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta for US$43 billion could be an indication that this regulation may be lifted in the future.
The only two countries out of the top ten to see an increase in biotech acreage were Brazil, with an increase of 2 million hectares, and Argentina with an increase of 200,000 hectares.
GMOs and biotech crops have long been a hot-button topic and anything but unifying for consumers, researchers, and the agricultural industry. The EU is currently examining whether to extend licensing for glyphosate since the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the chemical as a possible carcinogen in March 2015, and individual states across the U.S. are passing GMO labeling mandates, pressuring companies to comply with nationwide GMO labeling so as to avoid inter-state distribution difficulties.