India surpasses China in GMO hectacres grown

Are genetically-modified crops on course to being the future of food despite the opposition? Evidence suggests they may well be, as more emerging economies try them out — Brazil to India.

The facts can astonish. At 11.6 million hectares, the area of GM crops in India is now equivalent to Canada’s and more than China’s.

The upsurge is extraordinary, since it entirely comes from just one crop India has approved so far: BT Cotton. In contrast, Canada grows a range of such GM crops, canola and soybean. India’s adoption rate for BT cotton has been 95 percent.

The growth comes in spite of a fiercely polarised debate around GM crops.

Critics in India, such as the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, claim macroeconomic data indicate the opposite. For instance, it says in the US, food insecurity has risen from 12 percent in pre-GM 1995 to 15 percent in 2011.

In poor and middle-income countries, such as India, biotech seeds companies are fast filling in a critical gap of providing on-farm crop-care advice and direct handholding. Success of these crops is as critical for seed firms, such as Monsanto, as for farmers. These services, known as extension and officially supposed to state-run, have long collapsed in India. Such close coordination and rising aspirations have made BT cotton quite popular.

Although the debate over safety or environment isn’t likely to end, the biggest growers of GM crops could be those where opposition has been most fierce.

Read full, original article: Despite stiff resistance, India’s GM crop size now equals Canada’s and more than China’s

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