India overtakes China in GM crops

New Delhi: India has overtaken China to become the fifth largest grower of genetically modified (GM) crops by area under cultivation.

According to data compiled by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), the total acreage worldwide under all GM crops crossed the 100-million hectares (mh) mark in 2006.

In 1996, farmers globally had just 1.7 mh under biotech crops. In 2006, they planted 102 mh. This sixty-fold increase in coverage reflects the highest rate of adoption for any crop technology said Dr Clive James, chairman of ISAAA while presenting the "Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops: 2006" report here.

According to him the number of biotech crop-growing countries went up to 22 in 2006, from six in 1996 and of the 22 there are eight countries where acreage exceeded one million hectares. And the report interestingly shows that there is not a single European country in this list.

The two top European countries by coverage are ranked No. 12 (Romania) and No. 14 (Spain), with just 0.1 mh each.

In contrast to this is the US, which accounts for 55 per cent of the total area under biotech crops. In India, the entire 3.8 mh under GM crops is under Bt cotton and it represents 60 per cent of the country''s total 6.3 mh area under cotton hybrids.