GM crops advance on the world’s arable acreage
Genetically modified crops are taking over the world. [Evil laugh here.] The acreage devoted to biotech crops jumped 11 percent last year. Biotech varieties of rice — the world’s most important food crop — are poised to take off in China, a development that would put GM crops into the hands of tens of millions of small farmers who grow nearly half the calories eaten by the human race. Acres devoted to GM crops still cover a small percentage of the world’s total arable land, but they’ve been growing fast — from 4.3 million acres in six countries in 1996 to 222 million acres in 21 countries last year. Industry supporters hail these and other findings in a new report as proof that despite controversy about their viability and safety, biotech crops are becoming the preferred way to grow food and fiber. Critics, including Friends of the Earth, believe the jury is still out.