Co-existence rules work well
Porto – 164 farmers planted a total of 4,199 hectares of genetically modified maize in Portugal in 2007, according to a report issued by the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture. That represents a 330% increase compared to 2006, when strict co-existence rules came into force. These seem to be working well, according to the report. In 82 inspections of the 36 sites where Monsanto’s insect-resistent Bt-maize Mon810 has been planted, GMO outcrossings higher than the EU labeling threshold of 0.9% were not detected in neighbouring fields planted with non-GM maize. In 80% of the samples, the GM content remained under 0.3%. In practical terms, however, there is no firm relationship between the amount of outcrossing and distance between neighbouring fields, amount of field acreage, or wind direction. One sample of conventional maize planted 80 metres away from a Mon810 plot, for example, contained 0.83% GMO, while non-GM-maize at another site planted just 15 metres from GMO plants contained only 0.08%. Natural barriers such as trees or vegetable patches as well as streets between fields seem to be most effective in reducing GMO dispersal. Most of the 164 Portuguese farmers (86%) said they planted Mon810 because it reduces application of insecticides. 69% cited better yields, and 86% higher quality harvests.