HC Deb 03 March 2004 vol 418 c933W
Joan Ruddock

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what GM crops are being grown in developing countries; and what the advantages over the comparable non-GM crops are of these crops, as cited in peer-reviewed research. [156804]

Hilary Benn

The bulk of GM crop production in developing countries is commercial. Of the six countries responsible for 99 per cent. of global crop production by area in 2003, four were developing countries: Argentina (21 per cent.), Brazil (4 per cent.), China (4 per cent.) and South Africa (1 per cent.). Almost all of Argentina's soybean production is now GM, while GM cotton now accounts for 58 per cent. of China's total cotton area1. The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications publication "Global Status of Commercialized Transgenic Crops: 2003" provides more information.

A recently published report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics contains a number of case studies detailing the actual and potential benefits of GM crops for developing countries. These are not necessarily related to yield increases but may, for example, involve reduced farmer inputs.

GM technology has the potential to provide commercial farmers in developing countries with new opportunities to increase the yield or quality of their crops. In particular, GM technology may enable farmers to protect their crops from environmental stresses and attacks from pathogens and insects.

GM technology also has the potential to improve the yield and quality of smallholder crops, where the emphasis is on increasing production without the need for increased inputs.

Decisions about the use of GM crops are, of course, a matter for developing country Governments to take.

1Source: ISAAA, "Global Status of Commercialized Transgenic Crops: 2003

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