Biotech Updates

Italian Farmers Lose USD 475 M Annually By Not Being Allowed to Grow GM Corn

February 19, 2010

According to Futuragra, a pro-biotech farmers' organization in Italy, Italian farmers lose an estimated €175 (USD 273) to €400 (USD 543) per hectare because they are not allowed to grow Bt corn, resulting in total annual losses of €150 million (USD 203 million) to €350 million (USD 475 million). The EU Council of State has recently ordered the Italian Ministry of Agriculture to permit biotech cultivation. This threw into relief the financial implications of prohibiting biotechnology, says a new report by the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS). Bt corn has been approved for environmental release in the European Union since 1998. However, cultivation of the GM corn is prohibited in Italy.

If Futuragra's estimates are correct and Italian farmers lose €400 per hectare for growing conventional varieties, then the total loss to farmers in Italy due to the prohibition on Bt corn alone since 1998 is estimated at €5.1 billion (USD 6.9 billion).

After the Council of State's favorable ruling, observers feared that Minister of Agriculture Luca Zaia would defy the ruling and maintain Italy's prohibition on biotech crops. Should the Ministry of Agriculture do so, Futuragra said that it will file a class-action lawsuit demanding that compensation be given for the attacks of pests that biotech seeds could prevent.

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