Xpat Opinion: Hungary's Fight To Stay GMO-Free

  • 10 Sep 2013 10:00 AM
Xpat Opinion: Hungary's  Fight To Stay GMO-Free
By Ferenc Kumin: In case you missed it, back at the end of May, the Twittersphere (see here, here and here) and online forums lit up with positive coverage of a story about Hungary. If you’ve read anything in the international media about Hungary over the past three years, you’ll know that such things don’t happen every day. So what was all the excitement about?

Traffic about Hungary spiked on the news that this country had stood up to the big biotech companies and issued a firm no to genetically modified organisms, or GMO products. It wasn’t the first time and also not the last. Just last month, more than 1000 additional acres were destroyed, plowed under after being found planted with genetically altered maize crops.

Situated in the heart of the Carpathian basin, stretching across two great river valleys (of the Danube and the Tisza) Hungary is agriculturally well-endowed. That’s why food safety is an important part of our policy. In the European Union, Hungary has been one of the most vocal advocates of GMO-free agriculture and maintains some of the strictest GMO-regulations in the EU.

Scientists still argue about the harmful effects of GMO products (like whether they contribute to cancer), but one thing is certain: the business behind GMO has been quite successful in pressuring policy makers, including in the EU, to liberate the market for GMO products. Some time ago, WikiLeaks exposed a story involving one of the bigger names in the biotech industry and its link to lobbyists in Europe.

But Hungary’s concern for food safety and resistance to GMO seeds date long before the WikiLeaks scandal. There are good reasons to be concerned about the scientific arguments over GMO, but more importantly, we feel strongly that favoring high-quality food production over the GMO alternative (i.e, larger volume but lesser quality) will turn out to be a better policy for a country of our size and agricultural traditions.

Genetically modified crops are illegal in Hungary. Whenever such crops – usually corn in our case – are discovered, immediate action is taken by the government to destroy the crops to prevent the further spreading of the seeds. Those 1000 acres that were plowed under this summer were preceded by the story in May that caused so much excitement, the destruction of another 1200 acres of modified corn. We take this seriously to the extent that we have enshrined the ban in the new constitution.

Hungary votes in favor of knowing exactly what’s on the table. And our fans in the social media sphere respond positively.

Source: A Blog About Hungary

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