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USA: In 2010, more genetically modified crops once again

(30 June 2010) In the USA, the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) maize, soybeans and cotton continues its increase. In 2010, the share of GM crops increased to approximately 90 per cent. Fields planted with GM varieties added up to 64.3 million hectares.

In the case of maize, the share of GM maize in 2010 increased slightly in comparison to the previous year, from 85 to 86 per cent. GM varieties now grow on an area of over 30 million hectares. In the meanwhile, almost one half of the planted maize has ‘stacked genes’ – several new genes that usually produce specific Bt toxins against several pests and that confer resistance against one or several herbicides.

In the cultivation of soybeans, the share of GM varieties has increased once more by two per cent to a total of 93 per cent. Since in the USA the total area under cultivation with maize as well as soybeans has increased by two per cent, the acreage of GM soybean varieties has grown by more than one million hectares to a total of almost 30 million hectares. The GM soybeans on the market are exclusively herbicide resistant.

Particularly notable are the changes with regard to cotton. Besides an increase in the total acreage by 19 per cent, the portion representing GM cotton has grown by 5 points and now makes up 93 per cent of the overall cotton area. In comparison to last year, the area with GM cotton has expanded from 3.2 to 4.1 million hectares. Almost 60 per cent of the GM cotton has ‘stacked genes’ for insect resistance as well as herbicide resistance.

The statistics stem from the official agricultural statistics of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that are published yearly at the end of July. They are compiled by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and are based on evaluations of seed sales and representative surveys of farmers.

The current NASS statistics do not incorporate figures on the use of GM varieties in other crops. In 2009, US farmers cultivated GM sugar beets on 470,000 hectares that represent 95 per cent of the total sugar beet acreage. In addition, GM canola, GM squash (zucchini) and GM papayas are cultivated on a smaller acreage in the USA.


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