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Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops 2009: The First Fourteen Years, 1996 to 2009

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The global area of genetically modified (GM) crops grew by seven percent in 2009, to 134 hectares, according to this year's International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) "Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops" report. The largest cultivator of GM crops is still said to be the U.S. (with 64.0 million hectares), followed by Brazil (21.4 million), Argentina (21.3), India (8.4), Canada (8.2), China (3.7), Paraguay (2.2), and South Africa (2.1). GM crops were planted commercially in a total of 25 countries, according to the report.

The area planted to GM crops in South Africa is said to have grown by 17 percent between 2008 and 2009. In 2009, approximately 115,000 hectares of commercial Bt cotton were planted in Burkina Faso, up from just 8,500 hectares planted in 2008 (a 14-fold increase), the report says. In 2009, Egypt, in its second year of GM planting, is said to have planted approximately 1,000 hectares of Bt maize, a modest increase of approximately 15 percent over 2008. The report says that the number of GM crop farmers increased by 0.7 million to 14.0 million worldwide in 2009. Ninety percent of these were small and resource-poor farmers in developing countries, according to the report.

Soybeans, corn, cotton, and canola were still the main GM crops, according to the report. For the first time, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the 90 million hectares of soybean grown globally were GM; for cotton, almost half (49 percent) of the 33 million hectares were GM; for maize, over a quarter (26 percent) of the 158 million hectares grown globally were GM; and finally for canola, 21 percent of the 31 million hectares were GM, the report says. The report highlights China's approval, in what it calls a "landmark decision," of Bt rice and phytase maize for future planting.