Developing countries increasingly adopting GM crops

Genetically modified crops hit a milestone last year — for the first time, acreage of biotech crops in developing countries surpassed industrial ones.

A record 17.3 million farmers grew biotech crops worldwide in 2012, up 600,000 from a year earlier, says a new report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

And more than 90 per cent of these farmers were small-scale producers.

GM crops were sown in 28 countries last year and 52 per cent of the overall acreage was in developing countries.

“This growth is contrary to the prediction of critics, who prior to the commercialization of the technology in 1996, prematurely declared that biotech crops were only for industrial countries, and would never be accepted and adopted by developing countries,” the ISAAA stated.

The growing popularity of GM crops increases the need for an international convention on what constitutes contamination, said Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife Canada. Currently, microscopic amounts of GM material can lead to shipments being rejected, even when the contamination likely occurred during crop handling and transportation, not production, he said.

“The plant science industry has been actively working with stakeholders and the government of Canada to develop a practical solution to the issue of low-level presence,” said Hepworth. “It’s encouraging to see Canada playing a leadership role in this area and continuing to demonstrate its commitment to science-based regulations.”

Last year, Canadian farmers planted close to 29 million acres of biotech crops, which puts Canada behind only the U.S., Brazil and Argentina. The leading biotech crop was canola followed by corn and soybeans. The other GM crop in Canada is sugar beets.

ICE goes back to a 1:15 close

ICE Futures Canada, a division of Intercontinental Exchange Inc., said Mar. 18 that it will close earlier starting April 8 for all grain and oilseed futures and options products.

ICE Canada, an electronic exchange based in Winnipeg, will move up the closing time to 1:15 p.m. central time from the current 2 p.m. central time close for canola, milling wheat, durum and barley trading.

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