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Sugar cane



Research Virus resistance, tolerance to herbicides
Field trials USA 70
In many other countries
Approval None
Perspectives Commercial utilisation of GM sugar cane is possible in the near future in the USA and Brazil.



More than half of the world's sugar is derived from sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum). By far the largest sugar cane cultivating country is Brazil, followed by India, China and Thailand. Losses due to pests and weeds are estimated at more than half of the actual yield.

In 2007/08, worldwide over 1.6 billions tons of sugar cane were produced from 22.7 million hectares.


Sugar cane is used

In foodstuffs and ingredients:

  • sugar
  • molasses, a syrup-like by-product of sugar production is the raw material for rum and other spirits

As animal feed:

  • chaffed sugar cane as well as the bagasse, the fibrous remains of the plants after sugar production are fed to animals

As energy crops, renewable primary products:

  • bioethanol used for fuel is produced from sugar cane and molasses. Brazil is the world leader in the use of bioethanol as fuel for cars, where biofuel has replaced almost 20% of the mineral oil and is derived from sugar cane. In Brazil, about 3 per cent of the agriculturally used land is cultivated with sugarcane for the production of ethanol.
  • bagasse is used as a fuel, for producing electricity, for manufacturing paper and cardboard as well as material similar to pressboard for furniture, doors and in car manufacturing.


Gene technology: aims of research and development

Agronomic traits

Resistance against pathogens

Weed control

Resistance to pests

  • Insect resistance, in particular against borers, the larvae of certain butterflies.

Adaptation to climate and location factors

  • Drought resistance

  • Higher tolerance to salt for cultivation on high-saline soils

Renewable primary products, energy crops

Production of bioethanol

  • Increased sugar content

Production of pharmaceutically active substances


Field trials with GM sugarcane

USA 70
Period 1998-2010
Traits Virus, insect and bacterial resistance, tolerance to herbicides, altered sugar content
other countries Egypt, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, India, Cuba, South Africa


 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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