The additional gross margin of Spanish farmers that cultivated GM maize during 2012 was over 11 million euros

Date

08 Nov 2012

Sections

Agriculture & Food
Innovation & Enterprise

Press release

In accordance to the report accepted by the Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, the additional gross margin associated with the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) maize is 95 euros per hectare.



GM maize cultivation in Spain reached a historical record of 116,306 hectares in 2012

The year of 2012 marked 15 years of sustained growth of GM seeds in Spain

Madrid, 7th November 2012 - Spanish farmers realized an additional gross margin of over 11 million euros in 2012 thanks to the cultivation of GM maize resistant to the maize borer. The figures are obtained from a report accepted for publication in the Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research (SJAR). The report determines a mean additional gross margin of 95 euros per hectare of Bt maize1.

Spanish farmers have been successfully using GM seeds for the past 15 years. A historical record of 111,306 hectares cultivated with GM maize was reached in 2012, which represents 30% of the total maize grain sowed in Spain throughout the year2.

Aragón is the autonomous community with the largest cultivated surface area of Bt maize and an additional gross margin of 4 million euros (for 41,669.39 hectares of GM maize). It is followed by Catalonia (33,350.86 hectares) and Extremadura (15,951.5 hectares) with additional gross margins of over 3 and 1.5 million euros, respectively. The total additional gross margin for Spanish farmers is 11,049,127 euros.

Biotech seeds allow farmers to increase production in a sustainable way by reducing the consumption of resources per production unit (using less soil, less water and less energy). These advantages translate into direct benefits to farmers, making their farming activities more profitable and competitive.

Ignacio Eseverri, a farmer from Zaragoza and secretary of the PRObio Association, says "I have been growing genetically modified maize for over 10 years and it is a mainstay of my production as it increases my crop yield. Having access to maize seeds resistant to the maize borer allows me to be more competitive, while at the same time protecting the environment. Growing maize in the region would not be profitable otherwise.

Despite the strong demand for these seeds, the European Union (EU) continues to restrain the development of biotech crops, thus accumulating over 44 years of delays in their approval3. Maize MON 810 was authorised for cultivation in 1998 and its first varieties - in 2003. However, it is only the Amflora potato that has been approved for cultivation ever since. Many GM crop varieties have long been waiting for EU approval even after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed their safety. At the same time, the EU allows the import of GM crops that are otherwise prohibited for cultivation within its own frontiers.

Gonzalo Niubó, a farmer from Lérida, says "The work of Spanish farmers suffers from the incoherence of the European Union in relation to GMOs. We can only grow one type of maize but we import products derived from other genetically modified crops. Furthermore, we feed our own livestock with imported biotech maize and soybeans that cannot be cultivated here. What is the use of the positive assessments that EFSA produces since the decisions are taken by the EU or by some of the member states according to the sentiments of the government in office. The consumer, constantly suffering from the increase in agricultural prices, must be aware of this situation”

The EU subjects farmers to inequality that represents a major threat to the future of agriculture in Europe. Farmers are urging European governments to firmly commit to the use of agricultural biotechnology as a means to compete on equal terms and improve the sustainability of agricultural activities.

Francisco Javier Fernández, a farmer from Seville, comments "We need more common sense when dealing with agriculture in the European Union. As farmers, we are facing many threats against which we cannot fight back unless we start to consolidate the use of agricultural biotechnology. The European Union must allow us to cultivate seeds that the scientific community has proven to be safe and that have been imported for years. Our production cannot be competitive unless Europe opens its doors to transgenics".

In 2011, a total of 16.7 million farmers from around the world enjoyed the economic, social and environmental benefits of GM crops4 that were grown on 160 million hectares of land in 29 countries.

1 Report accepted for publication in the Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research (SJAR) "How can specific market demand for non-GM maize affect the profitability of Bt and conventional maize? A case study for the middle Ebro Valley, Spain" (ref. 448/11) by L. Riesgo, F. J. Areal, and E. Rodríguez-Cerezo. Published in 2012, Vol. 10 No. 4.

2 Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment (MAGRAMA) http://www.magrama.gob.es/es/calidad-y-evaluacion-ambiental/temas/biotecnologia/organismos-modificados-geneticamente-omg-/consejo-interministerial-de-ogms/superficie.aspx

3 http://www.europabio.org/agricultural/positions/44-years-delays-eu-approval-gm-products

4 http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/xx/executivesummary/default.asp

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MORE INFORMATION:

Soledad de Juan Arechederra/ Directora de la Fundación Antama / +34 915.714.640 / 654.51.27.91 / soledad.dejuan@fundacion-antama.org

Alfredo L. Zamora / Communications Coordinator / +34 915.714.640 / 638.810.965 / alfredo.zamora@fundacion-antama.org