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APPROVALS OF BIOTECH crops continued to increase worldwide in 2008. The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) announced recently that 13.3mn farmers in 25 countries grew biotech crops on 125mn ha in 2008.
This is a 9.4 per cent increase over global biotech crop acreage in 2007. “More farmers are growing biotech crops on more hectares around the world - this increase is a testament to the fact that, when given the opportunity to choose between conventional or biotech seed, farmers will plant biotech crops,” said Denise Dewar, Executive Director for Plant Biotechnology at CropLife International. Asian governments last year recognised the benefits of plant biotechnology, especially increased crop productivity.
• Chinese officials publicly announced strong support for plant biotechnology and committed resources to long-term biotech crop research and development. In 2008, Chinese farmers grew 3.8mn ha of biotech crops.
• India developed guidelines, standard operating procedures, and protocols for conducting safety assessments of biotech crops as part of a science-based approval-system for plant biotechnology. In November the government also approved field trials of biotech corn. Indian farmers grew 7.6mn ha of biotech crops in 2008, a 23 per cent increase over 2007.
• In 2008, two Australian states - New South Wales and Victoria - commercially cultivated biotech canola for the first time, and Western Australia approved commercial trials of biotech canola. Australian farmers planted 200,000ha of biotech crops in 2008 - double the number of hectares grown in 2007.
• Filipino farmers planted 400,000 hectares of biotech crops in 2008, a 33 per cent increase over 2007.
• New Zealand approved field trials of biotech onion plants.