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Growers at Farm Bureau meeting say they'll increase GMO plantings

(Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Reuters, via Agnet: A Reuters survey released on Wednesday was cited as finding that American farmers are poised to boost plantings of biotech corn by nearly 10 percent this year amid growing U.S. pressure on the European Union to lift a ban on imports of genetically modified crops.

The story says that the straw poll of 340 growers, conducted at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting, estimated that U.S. 2003 plantings for Roundup Ready corn will jump by 9.9 percent and Roundup Ready soybeans by 8.4 percent.

However, Bt corn plantings posted the only decline among the five major biotech crops included on the survey, falling 3.8 percent.

The story adds that gene-altered cotton plantings will also rise in 2003, according to the survey.

Roundup Ready cotton plantings will be up 4.0 percent, while Bt cotton will rise by 5.2 percent, according to farmers polled at the meeting.

The story cites U.S. Agriculture Department data as saying that 34 percent of corn in 2002 was grown with biotech seeds, up from 26 percent a year earlier. Biotech soybeans rose to 75 percent of the total U.S. soybean crop in 2002, up from 68 percent in the previous year.

Biotech cotton accounted for 71 percent of the crop in 2002, up 2 percent from 2001, according to the USDA.

In a related story, nearly half of U.S. farmers polled in the same survey said they were undecided or opposed to growing biotech crops engineered to produce drugs for ailments like diabetes, with 13 percent opposed to planting pharmaceutical crops and half saying they would consider planting the new kinds of crops, which are expected to command premium prices.

Another 35 percent of growers said they needed more information about health and safety issues before deciding whether to grow them.