National Geographic : 2009 May
SCIENCE Engineered Crops Corn is now a genetically modified king, along with soy- beans and cotton. Over the past ten years, crops engineered to tolerate herbicides or resist pests have become a good chunk of the market. The edible products go mainly for animal feed. Environmentalists have warned that genes could leak from modified crops and create superweeds. So far, that has not happened. Most of the cropland is in the Americas, where the public is relatively accepting of genetic modification. China may soon OK its first modified rice, which could become the largest GM crop for human consumption---and could cross borders illegally. Even without government approval, farmers eager for the GM edge have obtained seeds. "In 30 years," says food policy expert Robert Paarlberg, "GM crops will be pervasive." ---Jim Giles 43% of 86 million 24% of 366 million 64% of 225 million acres Soybeans Cotton Corn PHOTOS: MARK THIESSEN, NG PHOTOGRAPHER TOP AND CENTER ; REBECCA HALE, NG STAFF GRAPHICS: HIRAM HENRIQUEZ, NG STAFF. SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL SERVICE FOR THE ACQUISITION OF AGRI BIOTECH APPLICATIONS TOP GM CROPS, 2007 Charts show global acreage used for genetically modified varieties compared with overall production.