Europe has little transgenic corn (8/6/2006)

Despite worldwide growth Europe has little transgenic corn
By Stephan Boernecke

translated by Mark Hutcko and Stephan Nyeki, via AgBioView

To this day the agricultural area sown with transgenic crops is miniscule in Germany. In fact, seed companies announced an increase in the acreage sown with transgenic corn this spring which is positive from their point of view. However the increase is modest, as half of the initial applications submitted to the Central Registry have been withdrawn.

Of the 2000 hectares registered last winter, only 1046 hectares remain. (Similarly), of the original 1000 hectares at the end of last year, only 362 hectares were planted with transgenic corn. The main areas of transgenic crop cultivation are Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommen. In all of Germany, from the Alps to the North-Sea coast, conventional corn is planted on an area of 1.6 million hectares.

Besides Germany, transgenic corn is also being cultivated in Spain, France, Portugal and the Czech Republic. The variety of transgenic corn approved to-date, develops an insecticide in its leaves which is effective against the corn-borer, found in abundance especially in warmer regions. Spain is at present the leader in Europe, where this variety has been cultivated since 1998: the sixty thousand hectares of transgenic corn planted in Spain make up 12,5 percent of Spain's corn production. However, the planted area in 2005 decreased slightly for the first time. Trangenic corn plays a similarly subordinate role in the other three countries as well as in Germany, although the acreage in the Czech Republic has increased tenfold this year, to about 3000 hectares as reported by "Transgen".

On the other hand, the worldwide importance of transgenic crop cultivation continues to grow, especially for soybeans and cotton, as well as corn and rapeseed, and papaya and sugar beet in the USA. Transgenic soybeans, as a result of their genetic traits, are mostly resistant to total herbicides. The market share of transgenic soybeans already lies by 87% in the USA. In Romania, where transgenic soybeans are to be banned as of 2007, market share stands at 65%.

Importers of non-transgenic soybeans, are focusing on Brazil. Brazil produces almost as much soybean as the USA. However, the market share of transgenic soybeans only now stands at 40 %. Soya husk, used as a source of protein and a waste-product of soyoil production, is found in feed supplements for pigs, cattle and chicken. Labeling on the feed bags generally declares that feed may contain transgenic plant products, whether this is true or not. There is no obligatory declaration on food products in Brazil whether or not animals producing milk, eggs or meat have been fed transgenic soybeans. The German minister of Agriculture, Horst Seehofer (CSU-party), is therefore contemplating to bring this labeling loophole up for discussion in the European Union, once again, according to AgraEurope.


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