Cruz began planting Bt corn in 2006 as a way to reduce her costs for controlling insects. She says she could reduce her use of pesticides and the number of tillage trips in the field by optimizing such GM traits in corn.

Less tillage is important to Cruz, who is president of the Portuguese Association for Soil Conservation. Soil loss is a major problem and can average 17 tons of top soil annually for farmers in the erosion-prone fields of southern Europe .

“Europe wants the farmer to be more and more sustainable. They are imposing some restrictions or norms to use environmentally friendly practices, with which I totally agree,” she said. “But then they don’t allow us to use all the tools that will make those environmentally practices more efficient like biotech crops.”

The ban on biotech crops is a serious issue in the Europe. While planting Bt corn is permitted in the EU, it is still banned in member countries such as Italy. Giorgio Fidenato, an Italian farmer attending the World Food Prize events as part of the Truth about Trade and Technology program, is being prosecuted in the courts for planting six GM corn seeds last spring.