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S.D. Grower: Biotech Gaining Ground

Larry Diedrich, an Elkton, S.D., farmer and a member of Growers for Biotechnology - says that there's signs that opposition to biotech crops is waning.

Nine European Union voted in favor of forcing France and Greece to remove their ban on insect protected corn. In the past, only five have supported the motion, he says.

Growers in seven EU countries - Spain, Czech Republic, Romania, Portugal, Germany, Poland and Slovakia - increased their planting of biotech crops 21% to total more than 247,000 acres, he says.

In France, where politicians banned the previously approved Bt corn, 62% of corn growers would like the option to cultivate GM crops.

In Poland, 80% say the same thing.

A recent survey of 25,000 farmers in the United Kingdom showed that only 15% were opposed to planting biotech crops, while 45% were in favor. The other 40% fell into the "don't know" category

The record yields and payments that some U.S. growers saw with Roundup Ready sugar beets are making an impact in Europe, where sugar producers continue to struggle with weed control, Diedrich says.

"The more these growers hear about the benefits that American producers are receiving from biotech, the more they will speak out in favor of lifting the moratorium in Europe," Diedrich says.

Biotech is gaining ground 0n other continents, too.

In Australia, the planting of biotech canola is expected to increase 10 times this year.

China has field tested biotech rice. The crop has the potential to increase food availability and net income by about $100 per hectare for approximately 440 million people in the country.

Africa is starting to loosen, he says, in anticipation of the development of drought tolerant biotech crops.

In 2008, Egypt and Burkina Faso joined South Africa in planting biotech crops. Kenya adopted a biosafety protocol, which will eventually lead to a regulatory structure that will pave the way for biotech approvals there, Diedrich says.

Source: Growers for Biotechnology

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