EU Can't Halt Global Use of GMOs

According to University of Minnesota report, biotech crop use will soar in Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa in future years. Compiled by staff

Published on: Dec 9, 2004

Acceptance of biotechnology has skyrocketed in the United States. But it's doing the same in other countries, much to the European Union's distaste.

The study, "The Global Diffusion of Plant Biotechnology: International Adoption and Research in 2004," reported the global commercial value of biotech crops grown in the 2003–2004 crop year at US$44 billion, with 98% of that value produced in five countries — the United States, Argentina, China, Canada and Brazil — that grew one or more of four biotech-enhanced crops: soybeans, cotton, corn and canola.

C. Ford Runge, author of the report and director of the University of Minnesota's Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy, notes that biotech crops are now being grown in 18 countries, and research and development is being conducted in another 45.

But by the next decade, as more developing countries grant approval to grow these and other biotech crops in development, the global value of biotech crops is expected to increase to $210 billion. Adoption of these crops in developing countries could raise the gross domestic product in developing countries by 2 percent, said the report.

"We see continuing expansion of commercial and scientific possibilities for plant biotechnology in the next decade and beyond," says Runge. "Major expansions in biotech crop approvals and plantings are expected in Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa."

China, for example, has emerged as a major center for biotech research. Its government has invested several hundred million dollars, ranking it second in the world in biotech research funding behind the United States.