GMO crops took the world by storm in 2016, after marking time for the first time in 2015, with an increase of 3% in planted area to 185.1 million hectares in 26 countries around the world. This is the claim of a report by ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications), a pro-GMO NGO funded in particular by the American group Monsanto. The report is widely controversial among opponents of GMOs who see it as a manipulation of the figures.
Photo: Greenpeace action against GMOs
L’ISAAA, which published this count, sees the increase in surface areas as confirmation of its verdict of a decline only " conjoncturel "in 2015, due" to low world commodity prices« . ISAAA's prediction that GMO plantings would increase again as soon as prices rise. came true« notes the NGO's annual report, " contrary to the propaganda of critics that biotechnology does not convince farmers« . In 2015, after 19 years of consecutive annual growth, the area cultivated with GMOs had decreased for the first time, by 1%, to 179.7 million hectares against 181.5 million in 2014, according to the 2015 ISAAA report.
In 2016, the United States continues to be the leading GMO country with 72.9 million hectares, followed by Brazil (49.1), Argentina (23.8), Canada (11.6), and India (10.8). Together, these five countries would account for 91% of the total area of GMO plantations.
Europe: 17% increase, but not everywhere
In Europe, the total area increased by 17% compared to 2015, i.e. a total of 136,363 hectares of MON 81 maize, marketed by Monsanto. This increase is significant only in Spain, which is becoming the leading European GMO planting country, with 95% of the EU's GM maize area (129,081 hectares), and the only one where areas are growing. The other countries are, according to the Citizens' Watch site infOGM...which is down significantly. This is particularly the case in the Czech Republic where, from an already derisory area, there is a sharp decrease (from 995 ha to 75 ha), as well as in Portugal (from 8017 ha to 7070 ha).
In Africa, only South Africa and Sudan planted 2.8 million hectares with GMOs last year, after a suspension in Burkina Faso and Egypt. Burkina Faso abandoned Monsanto's transgenic cotton introduced in 2008, claiming that it was not profitable, and that its fibre was becoming shorter and shorter and therefore sold cheaper on world markets.
In Africa, ISAAA nevertheless highlights the progress made in research and the establishment of regulatory frameworks allowing GM crops: Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria have moved from the stage of "...the development of a new GM crop" to "...the development of a new GM crop"...". research » à « the granting of authorisation for release into the environment« and six other countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Swaziland and Uganda)". are attempting to set up multi-location trials for commercial authorization," notes with satisfaction the organization..
In terms of genetically modified plant species, soya is the most widely distributed in the world, with 91.4 million hectares, or half of the world's GMO area. « On the GMO planet, transgenic soya is doing well, but cotton surfaces are breaking the camel's back. "says Christophe Noisette, host of the InfoGM website.
GMO cotton in decline
For India, ISAAA suggests a decrease from 11.6 to 10.8 million hectares of transgenic cotton in 2016. InfOGM states that " Bt cotton crops have been drastically reduced in favour of other crops and peasant and indigenous cotton varieties . Isaaa reports a decrease from 11.6 million hectares in 2015 to 10.8 million hectares in 2016, which does not correspond to the Indian government's figures (10.6 million hectares to 8.5). Has Isaaa been confused with the total area under cotton? According to our government source, cotton acreage has indeed increased from 11.5 million hectares in 2015 to 10.2 million hectares in 2016. "
Last year, the value of the global market for genetically modified crops, estimated by Cropnosis, was $15.8 billion, up 3% from 2015. According to its website, the ISAAA, which has been conducting a census of GMO areas in the world since 1996, is funded by foundations and private donors, but also by the US Department of Agriculture and the Monsanto group, which is in the process of merging with the German giant Bayer.
Several organizations do not share advocacy pro domo from ISAAA. « This report does not mention at all the harmful effects of GMOs, even though the balance sheet is very negative, particularly in Latin America. ", indignantly told AFP Renée Velvée of the NGO Grain. Among them, he points out, " millions of displaced farmers, peasants murdered because they defended their land against industrial soy monoculture, millions of hectares of native forest destroyed in Brazil, and the unbridled development of livestock farming that fuels global warming, not to mention the cancers linked to the massive use of herbicides."