LONDON (UK) / BRUSSELS (BELGIUM), April 30, 2014 – The number of countries cultivating genetically modified (GM) crops is in decline, with Poland and Egypt the latest countries to suspend GM crop production, according to a new report from Friends of the Earth International released today April 30 [1].

The report ‘Who benefits from GM crops?’ reveals that 90 per cent of GM crops are grown in just six countries and by less than one per cent of the world farming population. An analysis of industry figures shows the claimed increase in GM planting in 2013 remains confined to these six countries. [2]

There is also little evidence that new GM varieties are the best way to improve nutrition or increase our capacity to adapt to climate change. Ninety nine per cent of available GM crops on the market have been modified to resist pesticides or produce their own, resulting in spiraling pesticide use. The biotech industry is promoting GM ‘Golden Rice’ as a solution to Vitamin A deficiency despite a lack of evidence to prove if it is an appropriate or effective method.

“GM crops cannot form part of a 21st century solution to the hunger crisis. Despite the hype, GM crops are still based on an outdated chemical-intensive and polluting agricultural model,” said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth International.

“GM companies profit from spraying pesticides and control the price of seeds. On every continent, public resistance to GM crops is growing” she added.

Countries such as Mexico, Kenya, Egypt and Poland have recently suspended cultivation of certain GM crops. Around the world, experts are calling for a shift to agro-ecological farming methods to tackle hunger and malnutrition. These methods have been shown to double yields in Africa and effectively tackle pests. [3]

“There are readily available, less risky and more effective solutions than GM to tackle hunger and poverty” said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth International.

“The solution to the hunger crisis is not more GM crops, it is more low cost, high yield agro-ecological farming – the type of farming being threatened by GM,” she added.

Countries such as the USA, Argentina and Brazil, some of the world’s top producers of GM crops, are seeing an upward trend in the use of chemical pesticides as a result of their long-term adoption of GM crops. In the USA, 49% of farmers report problems with herbicide resistant weeds [4].

In Argentina, links have been made between high levels of pesticide use in areas growing GM crops and increased cancer rates and birth defects in local communities. Doctors and researchers are calling for more rigorous research on health effects of GM farming. [5]

In Africa GM crops are grown only in three countries, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan. However, extreme pressure from biotech companies threatens to open up the continent to GM crops. A recent Kenyan decision to ban GM crops came under fire from lobbyists.

In Europe six countries have banned GM crops and public opinion against them is on the rise. [6] BASF and Monsanto pulled key GM crops from the European market in 2013.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth International: + 30 693 8131 226 or email: kirtana.chandrasekaran [at] foe.co.uk

NOTES

[1] The Friends of the Earth International report ‘Who benefits from GM crops, an industry built on myths’.

[2] List of countries cultivating GM crops in 2013 and 2012 according to Industry funded International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications.

[3] A comprehensive United Nations assessment of world agriculture concludedarticle link Argentine Health Problems to Agrochemicals in 2008 that GM crops had little role in alleviating poverty and hunger, and agro-ecological techniques were more suitable.
The four-year UN effort – the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) is online at

A report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter in 2011 to the Human Rights Council, Sixteenth session. United Nations General Assembly ‘Agroecology and the Right to Food’ also points to agroecological farming as the best way to increase productivity without expensive seeds and chemicals. It is online at

[4] A survey of thousands of U.S. farmers across 31 states conducted over three years by Stratus Agri-marketing, Inc., showed 49 percent of the farmers surveyed reporting glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farm in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2011. Stratus Ag Research (2013). One Million Acres of Glyphosate Resistant Weeds in Canada,

[5] López SL et al (2012). Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture: A Review of Their Effects on Humans and Animal Models. Advances in Molecular Toxicology, Vol. 6 pp. 41-75, and AP (2013). And article link Argentine Health Problems to Agrochemicals.

[6] Poland joined Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, and Luxembourg. France´s ban has been challenged in court.