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Farm area devoted to GM crops shrank in '15.

Byline: Ronnel W. Domingo

Low commodity prices caused the global farm area devoted to genetically modified (GM) crops to shrink in 2015 for the first time since commercial cultivation started in 1996, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The ISAAA is a non-profit organization the advocates the benefits of crop biotechnology, especially to poor farmers in developing countries. It has offices in the Philippines, Kenya and New York.

The group said in its latest report on the global status of biotech crops that in the Philippines, the total farm area for biotech corn fell to 700,000 hectares last year from 800,000 hectares in 2014.

Even then, the Philippines remained among the world's trop GM growers at 12th place.

In 1996, GM crops were planted in 1.7 million hectares in the United States. The area saw consistent expansion year after year to reach a peak of 181.5 million hectares in 2014.

In 2015, when 28 countries have allowed commercial cultivation, the area was down to 179.7 million hectares worldwide.

The ISAAA said last year's decrease was mainly attributed to lower prices for commodity crops, but also due to a devastating drought in South Africa.

Total crop hectarage is expected to increase when crop prices improve, the group said.

As of the end of 2015, the United States was still the top biotech grower with 70.9 million hectares, down from 73.1 million hectares from the previous year.

The United States maintains the most diversified biotech corp. portfolio with corn, soybean, cotton, canola, sugar beet, alfalfa, papaya and squash.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 29, 2016
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