GMO crops ploughed under
Budapest/Kraków – In July, illegally planted genetically modified crops made headlines in Hungary, where GMO acreage is banned. Up to 0.1% GMO maize products from Monsanto and Pioneer were discovered at four sites (near Szigetvar, Letavertes, Szolnok and Fejer county). This despite a new regulation that came into effect last March stipulating seed checks, and in spite of the law that seed firms are obliged to check seeds for GMOs before shipping.
In mid-July, Deputy State Secretary Lajos Bognar from the Hungarian Ministry of Rural Development ordered that the affected crops be destroyed. An area of about 1,000 hectares was affected, and it remains as yet unclear if other seeds provided to farmers by a Hungarian seed distributor and planted on an additional 2,500 hectares also contained GM maize. The farmers, who were unaware they were planting GMOs, said they stand to lose their complete harvest because it’s now too late to sow maize again this year. Monsanto has denied any responsibility, saying that every conventional seed batch is checked for GMO admixture before it is shipped. Monsanto has refused to pay any compensation to farmers, but has told the government the company will buy back any seeds it thinks are “GMO-infected”. It looks unlikely that farmers will receive any compensation, because the Hungarian distributor is under liquidation, and any possible damages will be paid primarily to its creditors.
Polish fear new legislation sets stage for flood of GMOs
At the end of July, hundreds of GMO protestors hit the street in Warsaw and Kraków to demonstrate against a new seed act, later passed by the Sejm, which aims to adjust Polish regulations to EU directives. Critics say the act indirectly creates a loophole that allows farmers to circumvent the existing marketing and cultivation ban by allowing GMO seeds to enter the national seed registry and to be imported from abroad.