New figures show that more and more genetically modified crops are being planted, despite ongoing reservations about the technology in many countries.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), an organisation promoting the sharing of GM technology, said that the area of land devoted to GM crops grew by 12% in 2002 to 58.7m hectares, the Financial Times reported.

More than 20% of the global acreage planted to soya, corn, cotton and rape is now given over to GM varieties. More than half of China’s cotton crop is an insect-resistant variety.

Developing countries are growing more GM crops. Of the 16 countries growing GM crops, nine are from what the report calls “the developing south”.

The report concludes that the global market for GM crops is estimated to have grown from US$3.8bn in 2001 to approximately $4.25bn in 2002. ISAAA predicted it will rise to $5bn by 2005.