Minister suggests banning Bt maize
Bucharest – Three years ago, Romania was Europe’s largest cultivator of genetically modified plants (87,600 hectares of GM soy acreage). With acession, the government there had to halt the cultivation of the GM crops not approved in the EU, reducing Romania’s overall GM acreage last year to just 325ha Bt maize (MON 810). This year, Romanian farmers have purchased enough MON 810 seeds to plant around 10,000 ha. However, two ministers are now actively promoting non-GM agriculture. Attila Korodi, Romania’s environment minister, and Joszef Graf, its agriculture minister, are vocal about the benefits of GM-free agriculture. While Graf affirmed that the seed industry has earned 25% more on non-GM seeds than GM equivalents, Korodi said he will push for a re-evaluation of MON 810 and seek parliamentary support to establish a GM-free Romania. ”I think becoming an organic country is a good thing,” the minister said, but reiterated that an actual ban is still a distant goal.
Korodi has already established a new expert panel that will re-analyse the environmental effects of Bt-maize acreage. “We would be very disappointed to see Romania following France even in attempting to ban such a product, which has proved its benefits to farmers in Romania,” said Cristina Cionga, a spokesman of Monsanto Romania. “Our products are completely safe for planting and consumption.” EU authorities approved MON 810 for cultivation a decade ago, but since then four EU countries – Austria, Greece, Hungary, and most recently France – have imposed bans. Poland has also imposed restrictions on the sale and import of gene-altered seeds.