30 April 2014

Africa: New Report - More States Suspend Genetically Modified Crops

press release

London/Brussels — 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 Despite the hype, GM crops are still based on an outdated chemical-intensive and polluting agricultural model," said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth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.

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