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Massive rise in Europe GM crops

Figures to be published later on Monday show the area planted with genetically modified crops in Europe has grown by 77% since last year.

This year more than 1,000 square kilometer (386 square miles) of GM maize was harvested. The biotech industry say this proves their product is appealing to farmers and safe for the environment. The only genetically modified crop grown widely in Europe is maize resistant to the corn borer - a moth larvae which eats the stem.

Graph showing GM maize cultivation in the EU
Planted in Spain for the last 10 years, it is now proving popular in France where the acreage has tripled in a year and also in Germany and the Czech Republic. Neither the pest nor the GM maize is found in Britain. One thousand square kilometer (386 square miles) is still a small fraction of the total farmed area of Europe and also tiny compared to the one million square kilometer (0.38 million square miles) under GM around the world - an expanse four times the size of Britain. Some environmental groups claim beneficial insects could also be harmed by the crop and in France President Nicolas Sarkozy has suspended all GM plantings until next year. (BBC News)