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19 December 2013

Plant Biotechnology

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This week Microbiology Professor José Antonio Lopez Guerrero shares with us his disclosure space in Spanish radio RNE, “Entre Probetas” (Among Test Tubes), in order to update us on the latest relevant figures in the world of transgenic and biotechnological crops.

According to the latest report of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), in 2012 170 million hectares were planted with genetically modified, biotechnological or transgenic seeds (which are the same thing).

More than half of the area with biotechnological crops in 2012 was planted in developing countries by poor farmers. In total, over 17 million farmers have used this technology. The United States, Brazil and Argentina are the three main countries in the world with crops of genetically modified plants. However, despite existing demand, the European Union continues to lag behind in the use of biotechnological seeds, at 129,000 acres in all. Spain leads the way in this respect with more than 116,000 hectares of transgenic corn. Meanwhile, UNESCO has just called on Africa to take up the cause of this biotechnology.

More and more people are asking to be able to use genetically modified organisms. For example, British egg producers have asked retailers to allow them to use transgenic feed for their hens. Studies estimate that producers could save over 115 euros per ton if they could use this kind of feed.

Also in Britain, the environmentalist Mark Lynas has publicly apologized for having led the anti-transgenic campaign in the country over recent years. He explained that he was acting based on “urban legends of the green community following an explicitly anti-science movement.” The environmentalist is ashamed of having destroyed fields of transgenic crops, an action he considers immoral and inhumane. And far from Europe, in Brazil, a study has put at 147 euros per hectare the benefits for Brazilian farmers thanks to the use of transgenic corn. In Spain the benefit is estimated at 95 euros per hectare.

If you want to listen to the original content (in Spanish only), You can enjoy it here.

José Antonio López Guerrero

Microbiology Professor at UAM (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid). Researcher and Director of the Scientific Culture Department of the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center


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