In 2008 of the 27 EU countries 7 officially grew biotech maize commercially. The 7 EU countries from largest to smallest in biotech maize ha are Spain, Czech Republic, Romania, Portugal, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia. These 7 countries grew 107,719 hectares of biotech maize in 2008 up from 88,673 hectares in 2007.
Spain is the only country in the EU to produce a substantial amount of biotech crops. Spain has been producing biotech maize since 1998 when it planted around 22,000 ha of biotech maize. In 2008 biotech maize hit an all time high in Spain of 79,269 ha of the total maize area of 358,500.
Spain is estimated to have enhanced farm income from biotech maize by US$60 million in the period 1998 to 2007 and the benefits for 2007 alone were estimated at US$21 million (Brookes and Barfoot, 2009)
The Czech Republic approved biotech maize for commercialization for the first time in 2005 when it grew 150 hectares of biotech maize. In 2008 the Czech Republic increased is biotech maize hectarage to 8,380 hectares of the total maize area of 288,000 hectares.
Romania successfully grew over 100,000 ha of biotech soybean up until January 2007 when it became part of the European Union. Under the EU biotech soybean is not approved for commercial use, and therefore Romania had to discontinue planting biotech soybean much to the dismay of farmers and consumers. To make up for the short fall of soybean Romania will have to import soybean which is most likely to be biotech soybean the very same product banned from production by the EU. Romania then decided to plant biotech maize for the first time in 2007 planting 350 ha which increased in 2008 to 7,146 ha. Romania is the largest producer of maize in Europe at 2.5 million ha in 2008 with France being the second at 1.6 million ha.
A study by PG Economics estimated the yield benefits Romania experienced when planting biotech soybean were significant at an average yield increase of 31% in some cases as high as 50%. Romania is estimated to have enhanced farm income from biotech soybean by US$93 million in the period 2001 to 2006 the benefits for 2006 alone is estimated at US$29 million. (Brookes and Barfoot, 2008)
Germany started commercially planting biotech maize in 2000 on approximately 500 ha in 2007 the area was 2,685 ha in 2008 the area increased by 18% to 3,173. Commercial planting of biotech maize is under threat due to resent bans. If Germany were to increase its biotech maize production to the total area of maize planted (55,000 ha) it would increase its gains by about US$8.25 million a year.
Poland started commercially planting biotech maize in 2007 on 327 ha, due to a positive experience by farmers this area increased over 8-fold in 2008 to 3,000 ha of biotech maize. One Bt yellow maize is being used in Poland for animal feed and for ethanol production.
Portugal recommenced planting biotech maize again in 2005 after a five year gap after initially planting approximately 1,000 ha in1999. Portugal planted 4,851 ha of biotech maize in 2008 a 14% increase from 2007.
Slovakia started commercially planting biotech maize in 2006 0n 30 ha in 2007 this area increased to 900 ha. In 2008 the total area of maize planted was around 236,000 of which 1,900 ha were biotech maize equivalent to a 111% increase from previous years.
It is becoming more and more imperative that the EU and the rest of Europe pay more attention to the benefits of biotech crops due to the current economic crisis, escalating food prices, climate change and a growing population this is one technology that cannot be ignored.