Farmers praise GM crops in EU study

European farmers who grow genetically modified crops enjoy higher yields and revenues than conventional growers, according to a new study.

Scientists from the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission's scientific body, surveyed more than 400 Spanish farmers who grew Bt maize – the only GM crop allowed for cultivation in the EU. They found they produced higher yields and earned up to €122 more per hectare (£50 per acre) than conventional maize farmers.

It is the first time scientists have looked into the impact of GM in Europe, said Dr Emilio Rodriguez Cerezo, who led the research. "There are definite economic advantages for farmers for the reason that their crops are not destroyed by pests," he said.

The European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, wants to remove regulatory obstacles to the controversial technology, arguing that GM crops could counter soaring food prices. However, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who takes over the EU presidency tomorrow, will be calling for more controls on GM organisms. Environ-mental groups accuse the GM industry of exploiting the global food crisis to win approval for its products.