Global acceptance of genetically modified (GM) crops is in decline, with the number of countries cultivating falling for the first time, according to a new report from Friends of the Earth International released today. Poland and Egypt are the latest countries to suspend or phase-out GM crop production.
The report ‘Who Benefits from GM Crops?’ reveals that in Europe, production of Monsanto’s GM maize, the only GM crop permitted in Europe, dropped in Portugal, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Over 90% of the European Union’s GM crop production is based in just one country, Spain . Globally GM crops are grown predominantly in USA, Brazil, Argentina and India.
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “There is public resistance to GM crops on every continent, with increasing social and environmental impacts wherever they have been planted. In Europe it is clear that the public don’t want them, shops refuse to sell them and an increasing number of countries have banned them.”
“Food and farming should not be in the hands of companies who profit from GM seeds and the chemicals needed to grow them. We need a food system that promotes greener farms, safer food and vibrant rural communities.”
Countries such as the USA and Canada are faced with escalating problems associated with GM crop production. In the USA, 49% of farmers report problems with herbicide resistant weeds ; in Canada around 10% of farmers report about the same problems, resulting in increasingly toxic weed-killers being sprayed.
In Africa GM crops are grown only in three countries, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan. However, extreme pressure from biotech companies threatens to open up the continent to GM crops. A recent Kenyan decision to ban GM crops came under fire from lobbyists intent on profiting from the sale of seeds and pesticides.
Kirtana Chandrasekaran, food sovereignty coordinator for Friends of the Earth International said: “There are readily available, less risky and more effective solutions than GMOs to tackle hunger and poverty. The solution to the hunger crisis is not more GM crops; it is more low cost, high yield agro-ecological farming – the type of farming being threatened by GMOs.”
In Europe, a new proposal to grant national governments more say over cultivating GM crops on their territory in Europe is currently under discussion in Brussels. The proposals, if agreed in the current version, would provide biotech companies strong power to decide if national government can ban the cultivation of GM crops or not, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.
Instead of allowing GM crops, the European Commission and national governments must urgently support existing farming methods that protect the environment and deliver healthy food for all, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.