In spite of the de facto moratoria in other European countries, introduction of GM maize in Spain started in 1998. The available GM varieties have grown from the initial 16 to 61 in 2007. All the current varieties derive from the GM maize event Mon810 modified to be resistant to the corn borer. The rate of farmers adoption and hectares under GM maize cultivation has risen along with this increasing number of registered GM maize varieties, although with a very heterogeneous distribution.
Data from the Ministry of Agriculture, extrapolated from the seed companies sales, report 75,000 ha of GM maize in 2007, 14.5% of the total grain maize area in Spain.
Catalunya is one of the Spanish areas with the highest concentration of GM maize adoption, 42% (in 2006). Maize production and the fabrication of feed and fodder are key agricultural activities, mainly related to the meat industry. The average size of farm lands is small and fragmented (5,45 ha in Catalunya).
The introduction of the GM crops has put the issue of GM and non-GM crops coexistence on the table. Up to four preliminary documents on the implementation of coexistence have been released by the Spanish administrations since 2004. However, they have been highly contested by agrarian and environmental organizations. No agreement has been reached so far. Instead, some guidelines on good practices for cultivating GM maize have been promoted by the seed producers association.
Besides, from 2003 there have been made public several cases of GM contamination in animal feed and GM crops.
For many years, a myriad of social agents, including farmers, consumers and environmental groups have been opposing the introduction of GM crops in Catalunya, especially during the period 2003-2008.