Portugal planted 60% more GMOs in 2011
Lisbon – In the southwest of Europe, GMOs are gaining ground. According to the European Association for BioIndustries EuropaBio, Portuguese farmers have grown nearly 60% more genetically modified (GM) maize this year compared to last year, an increase of almost 3,000 ha to a total of 7,843 ha. Spanish figures have also increased this year, reaching nearly 100,000 hectares of GM maize. Currently, there are two GM crops approved for cultivation in the EU, the insect-resistant MON810 maize that helps to decrease European corn borer damage, as well as the Amflora potato for industrial uses.
“EU farmers are missing out on €440-930 million each year, simply because they do not have access to the GM crops that could be grown here", said Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, EuropaBio’s Director for Green Biotechnology Europe, on a recent study tour to Portugal. Sarvaas was referring to a 2008 study by the Joint Research Centre, that estimated that MON810 increased farm income by up to EUR122 per hectare, led to higher average yields of 11.8% in an area of heavy insect pressure, and resulted in a reduction in insecticide costs by as much as EUR20.04 per hectare. "Productivity needs to be increased", added Pedro Fevereiro, President of Centre for Biotechnology Information (CiB Portugal). "This technology is already proven to enable cultivars to attain their maximum potential, protecting the plants and the environment against pests, diseases and weeds, while creating products that are safe and healthy. These benefits have been experienced and accumulated all over the world for more than fifteen years. It is time for the European farmers to profit from this technology.”
In September 2005, the Portuguese government established a decree law (No. 160/2005) on the co-existence between genetically modified organisms (GMO), conventional and organic crops. In brief, it recommends a minimum distance of 200 meters between biotech and conventional crops, or a 300-meter distance between biotech and organic corn plots, and establishes a framework for GMO-free regions