NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Asian Countries Embrace Biotech Crops

February 24, 2003

While African countries are shunning the promise of biotech agriculture, Asians are embracing it wholeheartedly.

  • Worldwide, in 2002, 145 million acres were planted with genetically modified seeds, including 96.3 million in the United States.
  • The three most populous countries in Asia -- China, India and Indonesia -- are already planting millions of acres of genetically modified cotton.
  • Meanwhile Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia are earmarking billions of dollars for private and government-sponsored research on biotech crops.
  • Although China is holding off for now on letting farmers plant biotech food crops, tests are continuing.

Biotech has become such a craze in Asia that farmers in countries which have not yet approved it have been reduced to stealing biotech cotton seed for their own use and for sales on the black market.

Asian scientists are experimenting on everything from genetically modified corn, potatoes and papaya to biotech mustard and chili peppers. In China, they have developed genetically modified flowers and poplar trees.

Seeds for nonfood products are the most popular, due to lingering suspicions about the health properties of biotech food crops.

Source: David Barboza, "Development of Biotech Crops Is Booming in Asia," New York Times, February 21, 2003.


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