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Europe: “GMO-resistant”

Europe: “GMO-resistant”

Publish date: 2014-07-29

Countries all over the world, like USA, Brazil or China invest millions in development of genetically modified crops and widely place them on the markets. In contrast, Europe with the most stringent GMO regulations remains to be strongly skeptical about GMO cultivations. Is there any chance for changes?

Tags: europe , gmo

In 2013, the cultivation of genetically modified crops continued to increase globally. The leaders in growing GM plants are USA, Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada and China. The European Union (EU) that is one of the major markets of the biotechnology industry, is still full of strong anti-GMO campaigns and closed for transgenic crops. There exist two opposing forces in EU, which are green campaigners worried about the harmful impact of the GMO on health and environment, and agricultural business lobby claiming that Europe, by rejecting GM plants is lagging behind other parts of the world that focus on development of agricultural innovations.

In EU, only five counties cultivate GM plants at all and these are Spain, Portugal, Romania and two central European nations – the Czech republic and Slovakia. What is more, the quantities of GMO are very little accounting for less than 0.1% of the global pool. A pest-resistant maize MON 810 is the only approved crop for cultivation in the EU, whereas e.g. in USA, 96 are commercially available. The interesting fact is that European countries import more than 30 million tons of GM grain used as a fodder for animals, which could be produced locally.

Central European countries fit in a current trend present in the whole EU. In Hungary, the cultivation of MON 810 maize was banned in 2006, whereas Amflora potato in 2010. In 2008, the Polish government forbidden planting and importing GM animals feeds, however, the EU authorities did not accept such decision. In Slovenia and Croatia some specific communities have declared themselves “GMO free”. Slovakia and the Czech Republic are the only central European countries in which MON 810 is cultivated.

In order to exit the current impasse, last month EU environment ministers approved novel legislation, which allows individual countries to decide about GMO cultivation on their own. However, public concerns and ethical issues still could be reasons for banning GM plants despite scientific confirmation that the grains are not harmful. The other problem is that European Food Safety Authority is not considered by the public as a credible source of GMO-associated knowledge, which makes space for anti-GMO social movements. The EFSA supports GMOs that were earlier approved in different countries. Nonetheless, in spite of its recommendations assuring very low risk of any harmful influence of commercial adoption of GM crops, the EU’s food policy stays one of the most restrictive in the world concerning GMO. All in all, any dramatic changes in the attitude to the GMO should not be expected in the nearest future.

Sources:

http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/agri_biotechnology/gmo_planting/257.global_gm_planting_2013.html

http://agriculture.einnews.com/article/212815971/cda0_Wk_z2BrQ3Zu

http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/is-the-dream-of-a-gmo-free-europe-myth-or-reality/

http://www.biofortified.org/2013/10/eu-opposition-to-gm-crops/

Maciej Smolarz

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