Global Acceptance and Prevalence of GMO’s
Over the last decade the agricultural world has witnessed a dramatic increase in the use and acceptance of GMOs. During this time GMOs have been subjected to scientific scrutiny and have consistently proven to have very little negative impact on the environment and the organisms which consume them. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012) states that crop improvement through genetic modification is safe; and the EU commission concluded (2010), after 25 years of research by over 500 independent research groups, that there is currently no evidence indicating increased risks of GMO production or consumption when compared to tried and tested conventional forms of agriculture.
Global statistics show that millions of farmers in multiple countries have adopted GMO technology, a 100 fold increase since commercialisation began in 1996 (James, 2012), allowing them to produce higher yields with fewer inputs resulting in decreased environmental impacts over billions of hectares of farmland. GM crops are resistant to insects and disease, tolerant to environmental stresses and thus allows an environmentally progressive agricultural community to thrive and provide the world with an increasing supply of safe and affordable food.
Much of the African continent has shown resistance to the commercialisation of GM crops, but as the world increasingly accepts them, African leaders are beginning to prepare their respective political and socio-economic environments for commercialisation (Agra, 2013). Burkina Faso, Egypt, Sudan and South Africa have embraced GMOs; and Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda are currently conducting field trials – one step away from GMO commercialisation (Agra, 2013).
India has been at the centre of GMO controversy for years as increased suicide incidents among farmers have been attributed to expensive GM seeds (Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice, 2011). However, this assumption has been disputed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (2008), an alliance of 64 governments: their studies conclude that GMOs in India have produced higher yields and have reduced the use of pesticides by 40%; socio- economic data and country wide statistics on suicides empirically show that suicide rates among Indian farmers are not attributed to GMOs (Herring, 2009).
Many other countries in Asia are also benefiting from the use of GM crops (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, 2013) – crops approved: Philippines 64; Japan 188; China 47; Pakistan 2; Indonesia 11; Iran 1; Malaysia 6; South Korea 85; Taiwan 52. In 2006 Asia’s acceptance of GM products was noteworthy: a substantial amount of GM products were being imported and 7.6 million hectares of GM crops were under cultivation.
Asian concerns regarding GMOs mirror global concerns: biosafety, food safety, social justice, ethics and competitiveness within local economies and the global market; however, most Asian countries have regulatory systems in place to ensure these concerns are dealt with appropriately.
GMOs are here to stay, embrace them and enjoy the fruits of a modern and technologically advanced civilisation.