Biotech Updates

Bt Maize Performance in Spain

May 2, 2008

Currently, Bt maize is the only genetically modified crop authorized for commercial cultivation in the European Union. Spain, with over nine years of experience in Bt maize cultivation, is the European member state with the highest adoption rate for the biotech crop. A survey, published by the journal Nature Biotechnology, reports that farmers adopting Bt maize experienced higher average yields than conventional corn growers in certain regions in the country. The survey was conducted by researchers from the European Commission Joint Research Center and the University of Córdoba.

The survey covered 195 farmers who grow Bt maize and 184 conventional maize growers. They were asked to provide information about yields, seed costs, maize prices obtained and use and costs of insecticides from 2002 to 2004. Significantly higher yield was recorded in the province of Zaragoza. The higher yield translates to higher incomes, since the farmers obtain the same price for fodder maize regardless of whether it is transgenic or not. Gross margin increase was as high as 122 euros (US $189) per hectare per year in Zaragoza. In other regions, however, profits were only marginal. The authors suggest that this might be due to the fact that Bt crops produce variable yield gains, depending mainly on local pest pressure and damage.

The article is available at For more information read