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Romania GMOs stay unchecked despite EU warning

Miercuri, 25 octombrie 2006, 0:00

Romania has no body, governmental or autonomous, to supervise the use of genetically modified products in the food industry.

Despite EC has mentioned the issue in its latest monitoring report on the country before it joins the EU in January next year, 2006 is the last year when GM crops are allowed and Romania and the country still doesn’t have a EU-level certified laboratory to identify food products containing GMOs.

In its report on September 26, the European Commission warns that the legislative framework on GMOs in Romania needed significant improvement as a well-defined system was needed to guarantee the whole GM soy crops will be registered, sent to processing plants, labelled and monitored according to European Council requests.

That brings Romania closer to the core of a worldwide debate on genetically modified organisms. While the US and large South American countries are promoting GM food heavily, it is still opposed by many EU countries.

The European opponents say that while genes have been modified to provide higher productivity and better protection for various plants the measure of hazard GM food poses is yet to be established clearly.

In Romania, lax legislation has allowed the development of GM soy crops for eight years. Experiments were also made on potatoes and plum trees. But while many US companies have lobbied for a continuation of such practices in Romania, the EU has the last word as it forces the country to put an end to such crops once it joins the EU in January next year.

Romania’s most important problems is GM soy. In 2006 alone, Romanian farmers cropped no less than 130,000 ha of transgenic soy, according to Agriculture Ministry data. That means a 300,000-ton production which nobody knows where it went and what was done with.

Romanian authorities have no idea in what measure GMO food can be identified in the country.

Marian Avram, head of the National Sanitary-Veterinary Authority for Food Safety, says Romania does not have a EU-sanctioned laboratory to identify such food. He told that a national laboratory was established in late September and it expects EU approval. Until then, the lab results are not EU-recognized.

But Liviu Rusu, head of the General Department for Food Safety, told that Romanian GMO tests are confirmed by Europeans. Between two conflicting statements, the EC report on Romania in September seems to support Marian Avram.

An opinion poll run by the Association for Consumer Protection in Romania shows 78% of Romanian consumers do not want to spend money on GM food. And 98% of the country’s citizens say the labelling of such products is necessary, while half of them believe GM food can affect health.

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