Daily News Archive
From December 15, 2000

Quantity of Genetically Modified Crops Increase as Many Countries Review Policies

According to data published by the USDA the total number of worldwide acreage growing genetically modified (GM) foods is on the rise. From under 10 million acres in 1996, the amount of GM crops has grown to just under 100 million acres in 1999. Farmers in North America lead the pack in producing GM foods, with 82% of the worlds GM crops coming from the U.S. and Canada. For example, 25% of all corn grown in the U.S. is GM corn (see http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/

It isn't just the major crops, like corn, soybeans and cotton that are being genetically engineered. The following list of GM crops are currently grown commercially: canola, chicory, flax, papayas, potatoes, squash, sugarbeets, radishes, and tomatoes. According to Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a national biotechnology umbrella group, 71% of all genetically modified crops are engineered to be herbicide resistant, and 22% are modified to contain pesticides within their cells.

Meanwhile, many countries are reconsidering their policies on allowing GM crops into their markets. For example, he government of Taiwan announced on October 17, 2000, that it would require mandatory labeling of food with genetically engineered ingredients in 2001. And in Japan, a 55,000-ton shipload of US corn was rejected after testing positive for StarLink corn. Currently in Montpellier, France, officials from the 177 member governments of the Convention on Biological Diversity are meeting in Montpellier to discuss practical steps for minimizing some of the potential risks of biotechnology.