GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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Widespread Bt maize cultivation pays off in Spain

For years Spain has been the only EU country in which genetically modified crops are commercially grown on any sizeable scale. Spanish farmers first began cultivating insect-resistant Bt maize in 1998. Since then, Bt maize has become firmly established in almost all regions with high corn borer infestation levels. In 2013, Bt maize accounted for about one third of Spanish maize production.

With an overall maize-growing area of just under 400,000 hectares, Spain was the sixth largest maize producer in the EU in 2011, behind Romania, France, Hungary, Italy and Germany. MON810 Bt maize has been cultivated in a number of Spanish regions for more than ten years. The area under cultivation rose continuously until 2008, when it reached about 80,000 hectares. Growth stagnated until 2011, when a rise in maize cultivation brought about a renewed increase in the GM varieties. In 2012, Bt maize was grown on 116,000 hectares, increasing to 137,000 hectares the following year. This represents around 30 percent of Spanish maize production. Spanish Bt maize is used primarily as animal feed.


Regions with strong corn borer infestation: Bt maize pays off

Bt maize is mainly cultivated in Aragon, Catalonia and Extremadura. European corn borer infestation levels are very high in these parts of Spain, and Bt maize offers a commercially attractive alternative to insecticides, which are in any case not very effective.

Bild vergrößern 

Cultivation of Bt maize in Spain 2007-2013 (in hectares)
Sources: Ministerio de Agricultura; Antama, USDA, EuropaBio

When farmers decide to control pests with Bt maize, they have to pay more for the seeds, but the extra costs are offset by fewer losses, savings on insecticides, machinery use and labor. In 2011, pest infestation in the previously less severely affected regions of Castile-La Mancha, Extremadura and Andalusia increased. This has resulted in more farmers switching to Bt maize.


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information


GMO Soybeans & Sustainability

Less soil erosion and fuel consumption: herbicide tolerant soybeans are promoting sustainable cultivation methods.


Glyphosate in European agriculture

Interview with a farmer

Glyphosate containing herbicides are not only used in fields with GM crops. They also allow conventional farmers to sow directly into stubble fields without ploughing. Glyphosate has replaced mechanical weed control in many crops and has had an important impact on agricultural practices and crop yields in Europe over the past few decades.

European Glyphosate Task Force

Crops and Cereals
GM Plants: The Big Four
Rape Seed
Global GM Crop Production in 2013
March 31, 2010 [nach oben springen]

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