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Stakeholder input wanted: survey on research needs for assessing GMO impacts 

Shaping the Future of GMO Research

Stakeholder with interests in the risk and/or benefit assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are invited to take part in an online survey.

The aim of this survey is to identify which research needs should be prioritised, thereby contributing to the commissioning of research on the health, environment and economic impacts of GMOs.

The survey will close on 15th July 2015.

More information and access to the online survey

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Research Insect resistance, herbicide tolerance, adaptation to local factors
Filed trials EU 76
in many countries
Approvals EU 6 (11 applications)
many in the USA, Japan and additional countries
Cultivation USA, China, India, Argentina, Brazil and additional countries
Traits Insect resistance, herbicide tolerance
Perspectives Food and feed from GM cotton are on the market; not cultivated in the EU



Worldwide, cotton plants are cultivated primarily in tropics and subtropics and also in arid, warm climate regions in moderate latitudes. India, China, the USA, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Brazil are the leaders in the cotton production. In Europe cotton is cultivated in Greece, Bulgaria and Spain.



Cotton is a natural fibre that is won out of the seed hairs of the Gossypium hirsutum plant. Cotton has been processed into natural textiles for a long time. In the 19th century, the cultivation of flaxseed for the linen production strongly decreased in Europe because cotton replaced this local plant. In the 20th century, polyester fibres competed with cotton. At the beginning of the 21st century for the first time worldwide, more textiles from synthetic fibres than from cotton were produced.

After the harvest, the fibres are separated from the albuminous, fat-laden seeds. During processing, by-products that are used as food and feed accrue:

  • Oil: the high-quality cotton seed oil is utilized for cooking and deep frying, as well as in margarine.
  • Whole grain: the albuminous pellet is used primarily for feed. It is also a the base for protein compounds and isolates, as well as for cotton seed milk.
  • ‘Linters’: These very short, non-textile fibres cling to the cotton seeds. They consist almost exclusively of cellulose. Various food additives such as thickening agents, stabilizers, emulsifiers or fillers are made from these.

Renewable resources

  • Principal customer for cotton linters is the paper industry that produces high-quality, tear-resistant papers, used for example for bank notes.


Biotechnology: Aims of research and development

Agronomic traits

Resistance against pests

Weed control

Adaptation to climate and local factors

  • Cold-, heat- and drought tolerance

Quality traits

Modified composition of ingredients

  • Oil and starch content, fatty acids

Modified fibre characteristics

  • Optimisation of length and strength of the cotton fibres

  • Cotton that produces a pigment (melanin) and therefore does not have to be dyed.


Field trials with GM cotton

Applications 76
Countries Spain 65, Greece 10, France 1
Period 1997-2010
Traits Herbicide tolerance, insect and fungal resistance, drought toleranz
USA 955
Period 1985-2010
other countries Argentina, Australia, Japan, China, India, Burkina Faso, Columbia, Uganda, South Africa, Pakistan, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe


Use of GM cotton

Zulassungen EU
  For cultivation As food and feed
Applications 2 11
Approvals   6
Traits Insect resistance, Herbicide resistance
Approvals worldwide
  For cultivation As food and feed
USA 12 14
Japan 5 16
Mexico 1 17
Australia 8 13
Korea   11
Canada   10
South africa 6 6
Philippines   7
Colombia 2 5
Argentinia 3 3
Brazil 6 6
China   5
India 3  
Burkina Faso 1  
Pakistan 2  
Traits Insect resistance, herbicide tolerance
Counted are always various GM cotton lines (events).
EU To date, the cultivation of GM cotton is not approved. This depends on a proposal for approval of cultivation.
USA In the USA, GM cotton is cultivated since 1996, in 2010 on about 4,1 million ha (93 per cent of the total area of cultivation of cotton).
other countries 2010: India about 10 million ha (>90%)
2009: China >3.7 million ha (60%),
Argentina, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica.
In Pakistan, field trials with Bt cotton have been taken place (2005-2006). In 2008 Bt cotton has been cultivated unofficially. In 2010 commercial cultivation is planed.

In Kenya the commercialisation of Bt cotton is expected for 2012.


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

 GMO Database
GM Food and Feed: Authorization in the EU
GMO Database: Contains information on every GM plant that has been approved or is awaiting authorisation in the EU.
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