GENET archive


9-Misc: On the 2005 ISAAA report on global GE crop planting (2)

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Biotech Farming Grew At Lowest Rate In 10 Years - Study
SOURCE: Dow Jones Newswires, by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck
DATE:   11 Jan 2006

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Biotech Farming Grew At Lowest Rate In 10 Years - Study

BRUSSELS - (Dow Jones) - The annual rise of biotech cultivation grew
last year at its slowest pace since 1996, when U.S. farmers sowed their
first crop of genetically modified soybeans for sale on the open market,
according to a report published Wednesday.

Last year 22 million acres were added to the global pool of fields under
biotech cultivation, raising the total to 222 million acres tended by
8.5 million farmers in 21 countries, said a report by the International
Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, a nonprofit
biotech foundation.

Experts attributed the slowdown to some countries nearing saturation
point in their use of herbicide-resistant and insect-resistant seeds, as
other countries hesitate to use the seeds over health and environmental

About 90% of Australian cotton, at least 80% of U.S. soybeans and 90% of
soybeans in Argentina are genetically modified. Europe is one of the
most resistant regions, limiting commercial biotech cultivation to about
100,000 hectares across five countries.

Biotech rice, the great hope for feeding the world's poor and bumping
biotech crop growth, has yet to reach world markets amid concerns about
the safety of the modified staple. So far, only Iran - which joined the
world's commercial biotech crop growers in 2005 - grows commercial
biotech rice. China delayed licensing biotech rice twice in recent months.

Emerging economies such as China, Brazil, Argentina and India are likely
to be the greatest growth regions for the use of biotech foods, ISAAA
founder and chairman Clive James told journalists during a conference
call. While Brazil posted the largest rise of biotech fields in 2005,
China looks set to be a vast growth region, thanks to Beijing's massive
investments in research.

"If we look at the investment in China in biotech crops, it is very
significant," James said. More than 2,000 scientists there are working
in publicly funded laboratories at China's Academy of Science to develop
pest-resistant maize, soy, cotton and other seeds.

CropLife International, a lobby group representing the interests of
biotech giants such as U.S.-based Monsanto Co. (MON), Switzerland's
Syngenta AG (SYT) and Germany's BASF AG (BF), played down the risk of
Chinese-made biotech seeds cutting into the sales growth of brand-name seeds.

"We hope we'll always be one step ahead," said Michael Leader, manager
of international regulatory policy at CropLife. "There are always new
crops out there and vegetables to be developed."

CropLife and other biotech lobbies say improved biotech strains will
continue to attract world demand. Researchers are focusing now on crops
that are resistant to environmental conditions such as drought and salt,
and those that boost the healthiness of a crop.

In addition to Iran, France, Portugal and the Czech Republic began
growing biotech crops last year.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth Europe attacked ISAAA's report
as "pure propaganda" for the biotech industry.

"In 10 years of biotech farming, they have done nothing for consumers,
nothing to protect the environment and nothing to alleviate poverty and
hunger," said Adrian Beeb, a spokesman for the group.

Biotech firms have taken some knocks recently. An Indian cotton-growing
region has banned Monsanto seeds and is taking the company to court
after the company's cotton seeds delivered low cotton yields.

                                  PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  World biotech plantings expand but at slower rate
SOURCE: Reuters, by Carey Gillam
DATE:   11 Jan 2006

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World biotech plantings expand but at slower rate

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Global planting of genetically
modified crops continued to expand in 2005, though the growth rate
slowed slightly amid persistent debate about the safety and efficacy of
the specialized crops, an international biotech crop group said on Wednesday.

Biotech cotton, corn, soybeans and other crops were planted on 222
million acres, or 90 million hectares, in 21 countries last year,
according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-
biotech Applications (ISAAA), a not-for-profit organization that works
to get biotech crops adopted in developing countries.

The United States remained the dominant user of biotech crops, which are
genetically altered to have such attributes as resisting destructive
insects and tolerance of weed-killing sprays. But farmers in China,
India, Brazil, South Africa and other countries were increasingly
finding benefits from the technology, according to ISAAA Chairman Clive James.

Also, four countries -- Portugal, France, Iran and the Czech Republic --
grew biotech crops for the first time in 2005, according to ISAAA.

James said biotech crops have increased the income of 7.7 million
farmers in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty.

"It is an extremely important technology," James said.

One advancement was the planting of biotech rice in Iran. Rice is a key
food crop for more than 1 billion of the world's poorest people and
could be a significant factor in reducing world hunger, James said.

But Friends of the Earth, a nonprofit group that believes genetically
modified crops can be harmful to human health and the environment, said
the ISAAA report failed to note that a growing number of countries were
actually banning GM products.

Indeed, ISAAA acknowledged that the year-over-year acreage growth of 11
percent shown in its report was markedly slower than the 20 percent
growth seen in 2004 and the 15 percent growth seen in 2003, as farmers,
food companies and consumers continue to evaluate the costs and benefits
of the technology.

Friends of the Earth said there are 165 regions in Europe declaring
themselves "GM-free" zones, including approval by the Swiss in November
of a five-year ban on such crops.

The group said biotech crop plantings are pushed on farmers by Monsanto
Co., the world's leading developer of GM crops, and a financial
contributor to ISAAA.

"In Paraguay and Brazil Monsanto's GM products were grown even though
they were forbidden, and in Indonesia the company was reduced to bribing
government officials," Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe's
corporate campaigner, said in a statement issued to respond to the ISAAA

"Governments should stop serving the interests of big companies such as
Monsanto and put the interests of their citizens and the environment
first," de Clerck said.

Monsanto had no immediate comment. The St. Louis company last year
agreed to pay $1.5 million in penalties to settle U.S. criminal and
civil charges of bribing an Indonesian government official.

Greenpeace, an environmental group also opposed to biotech crops, issued
its own report on Wednesday, saying that the commercialization of
biotech crops in 1996 has led to "a dramatic increase in toxic herbicide
use of 122 million pounds," in the United States, wildlife has suffered,
and Argentina is seeing "massive deforestation."

                                 PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  'GM crops fail in Africa'
SOURCE: News24, South Africa
DATE:   11 Jan 2006

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'GM crops fail in Africa'

Johannesburg - Ten years after the first significant planting of
genetically modified (GM) crops there are no apparent benefits for
consumers, farmers or the environment, said a report made public on Tuesday.

However, the report is hotly disputed by the industry, which called
parts of the report misleading and subjective and dismissed other parts
as "lies".

The report was released by the Johannesburg-based African Centre for
Biosafety and Friends of the Earth Nigeria, based in Lagos.

Monsanto, a multinational identified in the report as one of the world's
largest producers of GM seed, said that contrary to the findings of the
report, GM products had many documented benefits.

Report disputed

Monsanto spokesperson Andrew Bennett also dismissed the claim that
despite the promises of the biotech corporations there had been no
impact on hunger and poverty.

"With the exception of South Africa, no other African country has yet
had the opportunity to plant transgenic (GM) crops - they are still in
the process of implementing regulatory legislation. So clearly, these
technologies have not had the opportunity to impact hunger and poverty,"
said Bennett.

The report concludes that the increase in GM crops in a limited number
of countries has largely been the result of the aggressive strategies by
the biotech industry, rather than the consequence of benefits derived
from using GM technology.

Broken promises

Nnimmo Bassey of Friends of the Earth Nigeria said: "Contrary to the
promises made by the biotech industry, the reality of the last ten years
shows that the safety of GM crops cannot be ensured and that these crops
are neither cheaper nor better quality. Biotech crops are not a solution
to solve hunger in Africa."

But Bennett disagreed, saying the safety of GM crops had been
demonstrated "by the approval of 10 academies of science worldwide,
including the World Health Organisation".

Bassey added the biotech industry continues to claim, misleadingly, that
GM crops play a role in solving hunger in Africa and that several
western African governments had been under "substantial pressure" to
introduce GM cotton.

Bennett said as a publicly traded company it abided by the laws of the
countries in which it operated.


In the meantime at the end of 2005, South Africa adopted a moratorium on
new GM crops pending a study of the Department of Trade and Industry.

"The moratorium on new GM crops in South Africa sends a clear signal of
the failure of GM crops in our continent. GM cotton in South Africa did
not solve our farmers' problems; it has contributed to increase their

Bennett says: "This is a complete fabrication. There is no moratorium on
GM crops in South Africa. This is yet another case of the anti-GM lobby
trying to mislead the public."

Bennett added that the number of GM cotton farmers had decreased because
of drought and the low cotton price.

                                 PART IV
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Monsanto defends GM crops against report's criticisms
SOURCE: The Business Day, South Africa, by Siseko Njobeni
DATE:   11 Jan 2006

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Monsanto defends GM crops against report's criticisms

A REPORT that questions the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops
has sparked a spat between Monsanto, a GM food company, and
nongovernmental organisations opposed to modified crops.

The Johannesburg-based African Centre for Biosafety, and Friends of the
Earth Nigeria said yesterday GM crops were not a solution to hunger and
poverty in poor countries.

In a 100-page report -- Who benefits from GM crops? Monsanto and the
corporate-driven genetically modified crop revolution -- the bodies said
GM crops had no effect on hunger and poverty.

African Centre for Biosafety director Mariam Mayet said proponents of GM
crops used poverty and humanitarianism to disguise corporate interests.

But Monsanto said some of the assertions in the report were incorrect.
Monsanto biotechnology regulatory manager Wally Green said yesterday SA
was the only African country that planted GM crops.

"Other African countries are still implementing regulatory legislation.
So, clearly, these technologies have not had the opportunity to have an
effect on hunger and poverty.

"It is not coincidental that the only country in Africa that has
approved transgenic crops is the only one with a surplus of grain,"
Green said.

The report said government's "permissive" stance on GM food made the
country an ideal base from which to distribute GM food to the rest of Africa.

Agriculture department spokesman David Tshabalala said GM foods were
allowed into SA, but there were regulations governing the import of
modified maize, cotton and soya.

South African Nation Seed Organisation MD Walter Loubser said that 20%
of the seeds used by local maize farmers in the 2004-05 planting season
were genetically modified.


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