Genetically Engineered Crops Cover 10% of Farmland
Up from, well, zero about 15 years ago
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2011 11:15 AM CST
A sign reading "Danger, GMO contamination" is posted over a field of nearly mature corn genetically altered to resist pesticides that had been trampled by anti-GMO activists, Aug. 10, 2010.   (AP Photo/Paolo Giovannini)
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(Newser) – The amount of land being used to grow genetically modified crops ballooned 10% last year, as countries like Brazil and Argentina got in on the game. A full 10% of the world’s farmland now grows these so-called “biotech crops,” which were essentially non-existent 15 years ago, USA Today reports. Last year, biotech seeds were used in 29% of new corn plantings, 64% of cotton plantings, and a whopping 81% of soybean plantings.

The majority of these seeds, 61%, are designed to survive weed-killers like Roundup. Another 17% carry a gene that allows plants to effectively produce their own insecticide. The crops are convenient and cost-effective for farmers, but opponents fret that they could pose as-yet unknown dangers to the humans and animals who eat them.