The commercial take-up of biotech crops is rocketing, to the extent that the technology is apparently being adopted faster than any farming innovation since the plough.
I feel the claim is a little overblown, especially as the supposed advantages to all farmers are far from proven, but it was still startling to read in today’s Guardian that biotech crops now make up 10 per cent of the world’s commercial farm acreage.
The commercial acreage of biotech crops, from a starting point less than 15 years ago, has grown to about 1.5bn hectares (3.7bn acres) or 10% of global cropland. The number of countries planting biotech crops has increased to 29, up from 25 in 2009; nearly one in three countries have granted regulatory import approval; and developing countries’ share of global biotech crops rose to almost 48% in 2010.
Clive James, head of the industry-funded the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, points to GM crops being taken up faster than any agricultural technology since the plough 8,000 or more years ago; 14 million farmers cannot be wrong. Game over? Not at all, say the technology’s many opponents.
I’m not innately opposed to biotechnology or genetic modification but I do wonder what all the shortcuts to achieve “greater efficiency”, “higher returns” and “increased profit margins” will actually lead to.
How many other times have we heard, “It seemed like a great idea at the time…”