Ban on GM crops in effect
Sofia – On June 1 a law banning the production and sale of a range of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including wheat, came into effect in Bulgaria. The law represents an about-face for the country, which has experimented extensively with GM-tobacco and other products during the last decade but has since changed tack with view to joining the largely GMO-sceptical EU at the beginning of 2007. Experiments on Bulgaria’s other main agriculture products, roses and grapes, are also banned.
The list of banned crops does not include genetically modified maize or soy and has been left open so the agriculture and environment ministries may add items in future. Other biotech foods not on the list will remain strictly regulated and must be clearly labelled.
However, the issue has never sparked a wider public debate in Bulgaria or fellow EU candidate Romania, which is hoping to develop large-scale GMO production in the coming years.
In 2001, Bulgarian farmers planted some 13,000 hectares with GMO maize, which agriculture officials say was purely for experimental purposes. That fell to 6,200 the following year, with no plantings of GMO maize in 2005.