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2-Plants: U.S. soybean acreage decreasing - GE soy percentage rising

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TITLE:  Soybean Planting at Lowest Since 1998
SOURCE: Associated Press, by Emily Gersema
DATE:   Jun 30, 2003

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Soybean Planting at Lowest Since 1998

WASHINGTON --Farmers cut soybean planting back to 73.7 million acres this
year--the lowest since 1998, the Agriculture Department said Monday.

It's the third year in a row in which farmers have reduced their soybean
acreage, and this year's planting is 105,000 acres less than last year,
according to an annual survey by the department. Eleven states--ranging
from Mississippi and Arkansas to South Dakota and Ohio--planted smaller
soybean crops.

However, growers in 15 states increased their soybean acreage,
particularly in southeastern states like North Carolina, where persistent
rains drenched the soil, hampering efforts to plant cotton and corn, the
department said.

Although overall soybean planting is down, states continue to increase
their growth of genetically engineered soybeans. The survey said that 76
percent of the soybean crop is Roundup Ready soybeans, genetically
designed to resist Monsanto's Roundup weed-killer. That's up 6 percentage
points over last year's planting.

Arkansas farmers saw the greatest increase in biotech soybeans, up 16
percentage points to 84 percent of the state's 2.9 million acres. Ohio
and Michigan increased their biotech soybean crop by just 1 percentage
point. Ohio's 4.4 million acres of soybeans are 74 percent biotech, and
Michigan's 2.1 million acres are 73 percent genetically engineered.

Growers planted 79.1 million acres of corn, virtually the same as last
year, the survey found. Farmers around the country planted slightly more
genetically engineered corn, including the insect resistant Bt and
Roundup Ready varieties. Total biotech corn acreage is up 6 percentage
points at 40 percent this year.

Michigan farmers increased their biotech corn crops the most _ up 13
percentage points to 35 percent of their 2.3 million acres.

Farmers dedicated 60.9 million acres to wheat crops this year, up 1
percent from last year, the department said. Growers planted 44.3 million
acres of winter wheat--up 6 percent from last year.

Cotton farmers planted 13.9 million acres--33,000 less than last year's
crop. Roundup Ready and Bt genetically engineered varieties cover 73
percent of the planted acreage--up 2 percentage points from last year.

The annual survey is based on interviews with 77,000 farmers.


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