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Biotech Golden Rice Approval Seen
by Marvyn N. Benaning
23-August- 2012 Manila Bulletin
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MANILA, Philippines --- The world’s leading biotech crop advocate has predicted that the genetically-modified (GM) beta carotene-fortified Golden Rice will secure approval for commercialization in the Philippines in the next two years.

Dr. Clive James, chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), said the approval “generate life-saving humanitarian benefits as 6,000 people a day, mainly women and children, die from complications resulting from vitamin A deficiency.”

James said that in spite of what detractors have said the rate of adoption of biotech crops “in developing countries dwarfs that of industrialized nations.”

He observed that of the 29 countries that had adopted biotech crops in 2011, 19 were developing countries and 10 were industrialized nations.

“China and India lead Asian adoption, Brazil and Argentina lead Latin American adoption, and South Africa leads adoption on the continent of Africa.

A growth rate for biotech crops in developing countries at 11 percent, or 8.2 million hectares during 2011, was twice as fast and twice as large as industrial countries at 5 percent or 3.8 million hectares,” James said.

Developing countries grew approximately 50 percent of global biotech crops in 2011 and are expected to exceed industrial countries’ land area devoted to the crops this year.

More than 90 percent of farmers planting biotech crops worldwide, around 15 million, are small resource-poor farmers in developing countries, up 8 percent or 1.3 million since 2010, James revealed.

He added that in the near term, the biggest driver of global biotech crop adoption will be Brazil followed by China once approval to commercialize biotech corn in China is in place, which could be as early as 2013.

Brazil, second only to the US in total land area planted to biotech crops, has a science-based, effective and responsible fast-track approval system for biotech crops and will also benefit from a rich pipeline of new biotech crops coming from transnationals, public-private partnerships (PPP) and its own public-sector research institution EMBRAPA, James noted.

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