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Agri-View reports:

Farmers are growing substantially the number of acres they plant of genetically modified crops, reveal new figures by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. Global adoption of genetically modified crops reached 181.5 million hectares in 2014, an increase of 6 million hectares from the previous year. A hectare is equivalent to 2.47105 acres.

What is more, the International Service, a non-profit based near London that licenses genetically modified technologies to farmers, indicates the number of small farmers who plant genetically modified seeds has soared to 18 million. That's up from just 600,000 two years ago.

"Today's figures explode, once and for all, the myth that genetically modified crops are all about big farming and big business," said Dr. Julian Little, chairman of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, a joint venture based near London that is financed by the world's biggest biotech companies, including BASF, Bayer, Dow, Monsanto, Pioneer/DuPont and Syngenta.

It also supports the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications.

Seed Technology

"One of the major advantages of (genetically modified) is that the technology is contained within the seed, and therefore is just as accessible to resource-poor small-scale cotton farmers in Sudan as it is to large-scale soy farmers in Brazil or the U.S," Little said.

Genetically modified crops planted in emerging and developed countries even surpass those of industrialized countries for the first time. Bangladesh is leading the way in the third world, because it is commercializing a number of new seed technologies widely. Spanish farmers reported a record 31.6-percent adoption rate - that is, nearly a third of farmers there are growing genetically modified seeds despite bureaucratic pressures from the European Union. Crops of genetically modified plants include corn, cotton and rice.

"(This is) an innovative, new approach (for farming, being led by) visionary professionals in the agricultural business," said expert Dan Shugar, CEO of NEXT Tracker, a tracking technology developer for farmers, based in Fremont, California.

Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrates the practical reason farmers are adopting these pioneering technologies for everyday use. By analyzing two decades worth of corn-yield data from Wisconsin, a team of UW-Madison researchers has quantified the impact that various "transgenes" have on grain yield and production risk compared to conventional corn. Their analysis affirms the general view that the major benefit of genetically modified crops doesn't come from increasing yields in average or good years, but from reducing losses during bad years.

These genetically modified seeds are, in fact, designed by scientists to improve agricultural productivity by tackling challenges such as pests, diseases and changing climatic conditions, while reducing water usage and greenhouse-gas emissions.

Experts are calling for regulators across the globe to exercise restraint when it comes to genetically modified crops, and not be swayed by vocal skeptics of the technology. Little, with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, decried the regulatory system of the European Union as dysfunctional regarding new genetically modified crop-planting rules.

"As such, they will prevent many countries from reaping the benefits of these highly tested and regulated crops," he said.

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