Romania's GMO dilemma: who to side with - corporations or the EU?

Publish date: 27-03-2007
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The Environment Ministry in Bucharest is due to push for public debate two new initiatives on genetically modified food - one for the introduction of GM soy testing and one for tests of GM plum trees. The Ministry recently authorized tests on GM corn. The moves come as agricultural experts are pushing hard to make Romanian citizens understand that GM crops are not harmful.

But environmental militants are redirecting the debate towards studies they say may help stop the expansion of non-conventional crops, while modified corn is the only GM plant allowed in the EU agriculture.

Romania is facing backbreaking decisions on aligning its agricultural legislation to the EU's and applying it wherever possible. But major companies are also pushing hard to have GM crops allowed at large-scale level.

"We're doing what the EU laws says and it says very clearly what can be cropped and what not", Environment Ministry official Catalin Cheran told

A short look over all notifications submitted on GMOs on EU territory ( shows most come from US corporations such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta. Several other local players - state universities and companies covering national territories alone - are also profiled, but in a much lesser measure.

Pioneer, Monsanto and Syngenta have submitted documents asking to test GM crops in Romania. If applied, the groups may start putting up crops for testing GM soy, corn and plum trees.

They're also claiming that food is already insufficient and that "a solution to these crisis is the use of biotechnology in agriculture", as Clive James, a GMO supporter, put it during a Bucharest conference on March 2.

But anti-GM campaigners are also doing their best in preventing such pressure. Shortly after Hungary obtained an exemption from regulations on GM corn crops, a study was published claiming that GM corn damages human health.

And for the first time since GM corn was authorized for food production, a study recently published by Professor Gilles Eric Seralini of the University of Caen claims the only EU-approved GMO used on testing animals provides signs of toxicity in at liver and kidney level.

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