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According to a report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, genetically modified (GM) crops are gaining ground. In 2001 some 52.6m hectares were planted with GM crops, a 19% rise over the previous year. Thirteen countries now grow GM soyabeans, maize, corn, cotton or canola. America accounts for two-thirds of global production, but China, South Africa and Australia are rapidly increasing their share. Despite lingering consumer unease, particularly in Europe, the report predicts a bright future for GM crops.

At the same time, in 1999, Americans faced increasing difficulty in selling farm products in overseas markets during the year because of concerns over the use of biotechnology. In previous years questions about the safety of genetically modified soybeans and corn had been raised mostly in Europe. As the year wore on, concerns began to spread to Asia and North America. Some countries began to require warning labels and impose other restrictions on GMOs in foodstuffs. American farmers, who in general had rapidly and enthusiastically embraced the new technology, were understandably concerned that their products might not be acceptable in world markets. As a result, some major American agricultural processors indicated that farmers would have to certify GMO-free status upon delivery of their produce. Some manufacturers of baby foods announced that they would not use genetically modified commodities as inputs.

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