UK Farmer Wants Access to Benefits of Biotechnology in Europe

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Fiddaman Describes Benefits From On-Farm Research Trial in Online Video and Podcast.

We were getting anything from 10 to 15 percent increased yield from the GM part of the crop

In 2005, farmers planted 222 million acres (90 million hectares) of genetically modified crops in 21 countries, including five countries in the European Union: the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain. While the United Kingdom government has determined there is no scientific case for a blanket ban on GM crops, there are currently no commercialized GM crops being grown in the country.

UK farmer Bob Fiddaman would like to see that change. Fiddaman participated in Farm Scale Evaluation trials on oil seed rape. He hopes that the benefits of biotechnology he witnessed on his farm will soon be commercially available to UK farmers. “The outcome – as far as I was concerned – was a benefit for the GM crop because it gave a higher yield, and it was much easier to manage,” says Fiddaman, who has farmed for more than 40 years and currently grows wheat, barley and field beans for animal feed on 1,300 acres (520 hectares).

In other European countries, farmers are utilizing genetically modified, insect-protected (Bt) corn crops that contain a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which protects the plants from specific lepidopteron insect pests. Bt corn has enabled Spanish farmers to reduce pesticide applications, achieve 10 – 15 percent higher yields, and increase gross margins by 12 percent.

“We were getting anything from 10 to 15 percent increased yield from the GM part of the crop,” continues Fiddaman, referencing results from the field scale trials on herbicide-tolerant oil seed rape conducted on his UK farm. “Given the opportunity, I'd grow it tomorrow. The technology was that good.”

Fiddaman discusses the benefits of biotechnology in an exclusive video and podcast available at the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology. In addition to Fiddaman’s video, visitors can view conversations with two of his fellow European farmers — Pedro Lerín and Ismael Purroy of Spain – who discuss the benefits of biotechnology in Europe.

Conversations about Plant Biotechnology is designed to give a voice and a face to the farmers and families who grow biotech crops and the experts who research and study the technology. The Web site contains more than 40, two- to three-minute, extremely candid, straightforward and compelling video segments with the people who know the technology best. The Web site is hosted by Monsanto Company — a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

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Ranjana Smetacek
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