Agro-Genetic Engineering and Nature Conservation
Genetically modified rapeseed was grown commercially for the first time in Canada in 1995. Commercial cultivation of transgenic soya followed a year later in the US. Now, about 102 million hectares of arable land around the world are covered with transgenic varieties of soya, maize, cotton and rapeseed (Source: ISAAA Briefs No. 35-2006, January 2007). The main crop-growing countries are the US, Canada, Argentina and China.
Transgenic Bt maize is the first genetically modified organism to be commercially grown in the EU. All varieties originated from MON810 maize which was authorised for cultivation and use as food and feed under EU GMO legislation in 1998. Apart from approval under GMO legislation, commercial cultivation of GMO crops requires (like all new varieties) variety approval under Germany's Seeds Marketing Act (Saatgutverkehrsgesetz). Some 17 GMO varieties were added to the Common EU Catalogue of Varieties (seed register) at the end of 2004 and may now be sold throughout the EU. Initially, transgenic maize varieties were only grown in Spain, with crops covering a total area of about 25,000 hectares. The first transgenic maize varieties to be cultivated in Germany were approved and planted at the end of 2005. Broad commercial cultivation poses new nature conservation and environmental challenges.