Crop Biotech Update

Long-term Adoption of GM Maize in Spain and Portugal Proves to Benefit Farmers and the Environment

June 5, 2019

Renowned agricultural economist Graham Brookes of PG Economics published the latest findings on the use of insect resistant maize in Spain and Portugal. The study covers 21 years, starting from when GM maize was first planted in Spain in 1998. From then on until 2018, 121,000 hectares of insect resistant maize were planted in both countries. This is equivalent to 35% of total maize area in Spain, and 6% in Portugal. The study also stated how GM maize has helped farmers grow more maize for food and feed while using fewer resources.It was also documented that planting GM maize decreased the use of insecticides and fossil fuels during crop spraying.

In terms of farmers' income, planting GM maize has resulted to an increase in crop yield and the reduction of expenses for pesticide control, therefore providing farmers with higher income averaging €173 per hectare and an average return on investment of +€4.95 for each extra €1 spent on GM maize seed as compared to using conventional maize seed. This was proven to have helped farm household incomes and, in the long run, boosted the rural and national economies of both countries.

While the use of GM insect resistant maize was proven to have contributed to addressing crop production, environmental challenges, and has increased farmers' income, Brookes also pointed out that there are still members of the European Union that opted to ban the cultivation of GM maize despite being approved for planting in EU many years ago. These countries are said to be missing out the economic and environmental benefits of GM maize.

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