In January, a biotech industry front group, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), announced, with great fanfare, that global acreage of genetically engineered (GE)crops had increased 19% in 2001. According to ISAAA, 5.5 million farmers last year planted 130 million acres (52.6 million hectares) of GE crops, a 30-fold increase since 1996. For the year 2000, ISAAA had reported a somewhat smaller 11% growth in GE acreage. Cheerleaders for Frankenfoods, including Monsanto and the American Farm Bureau, hailed ISAAA's most recent projections as "proof" that the Biotech Century was going forward, despite widespread opposition in Europe and Asia, and increased rumblings of discontent among North American consumers and farmers.
Although most of the corporate media dutifully regurgitated ISAAA's press release on the "progress" of agbiotech, a closer more critical look at the evidence reveals a somewhat different story. First of all, ISAAA estimates on crop acreage are based on interviews with "true believers," farmers who are growing GE crops. Secondly, ISAAA gets its funds from corporations such as Monsanto, Aventis, and Pioneer (Dupont). In addition, previous assertions made by the group's spokesman, Clive James have subsequently been proven false. For example, James claimed that 1998 plantings of GE soybeans resulted in a 12% yield increase, when in fact yields fell 6-12%