The area planted with genetically modified crops in Europe grew by 77% since last year. The only genetically modified crop grown widely in Europe is maize resistant to the corn borer, a moth larva which eats the stem, and it is cultivated for animal feed, not for human consumption. Last year 1,000 sq km of GM maize was harvested, but this is still a small fraction of the total farmed area of Europe and tiny compared with the one million sq km under GM around the world – an expanse the size of France and Spain combined.
The growth is largely attributable to marketing by biotech giants since the use of GM continues to be unproven both environmentally and economically. Some environmental groups claim beneficial insects could also be harmed by the crop; and in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has suspended all GM plantings until next year.
Clare Oxborrow, a Friends of the Earth food campaigner notes that the increase in the area planted with GM crops should not be viewed as beneficial. “The reality is, these crops have failed to deliver benefits, and more and more evidence is, in fact, coming to light showing that there are increased concerns about their environmental risks. GM crops, GM industry is not competitive, it is not creating jobs, it is not creating any new environmental benefits, it’s not accepted by consumers, and I think we need to take a long, hard look. These figures today are more about the industry trying to reassure its investors than any significant success.”