As a follow up to my July 16, 2009 post, here are some more interesting statistics. The USDA reports that American farmers have adopted genetically engineered crops widely since their introduction in 1996, notwithstanding uncertainty about consumer acceptance and economic and environmental impacts.
Also, the Human Genome Project Information reports that in 2006, 252 million acres of GMO crops were planted in 22 countries by 10.3 million farmers. While the majority of these crops were herbicide- and insect-resistant soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, and alfalfa, on the horizon are, to name a few, bananas that produce human vaccines against infectious diseases such as hepatitis B; fish that mature more quickly; cows that are resistant to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease); fruit and nut trees that yield years earlier, and plants that produce new plastics with unique properties.
The Human Genome Project Information also reports that while the big GMO growers in 2006 were the United States (53%), Argentina (17%), Brazil (11%), Canada (6%), India (4%), China (3%), Paraguay (2%) and South Africa (1%), which combined were responsible for 97% of the global GMO crops, the growth of GMOs is expected to increase in the developing countries.
While GMOs’ uses, some of which are mentioned above, appear to have a beneficial societal purpose, it is disconcerting that these genetically altered products are entering the market place at such an alarming speed without studies that evaluate their long term effects on human and animal health as well as the environment.