voted against the proposal of the European Commission to end Hungary’s
ban on the genetically modified maize MON810. Hungarian Agriculture
Minister József Gráf was able to maintain the pledge made by his
predecessor Imre Németh to keep Hungary GM-free.
decade between 1996 und 2006, the area under GM crops increased
worldwide from 1.7 to 102 million hectares. Alongside the USA and
Canada, those leading the field include Argentina, Brazil, China,
Paraguay and South Africa. Gene technology involves adding artificial
genes into living plant cells which generate new traits. Pest
management and fertilisation are simpler and cheaper or can even be
omitted entirely since genetically modified crops such as maize, soya,
rapeseed or cotton are resistant to or better able to withstand
unfavourable weather conditions. Those using GM crops can benefit from
larger and more reliable harvests. For developing countries GM could
potentially put a stop to repeated poor harvests.
against the spread of GM crops? Why have the approval procedures
dragged on, and why do some member states – including Hungary and
Austria – still insist on the ban on trade or cultivation for testing
purposes? Why is public opinion so anti-GM, and why are there fears of
letting the genie out of the bottle if GM crops are permitted?
Hungary because the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis), against
which it offers protection, is not one of the major pests here.
Pesticides are hardly used against it, so cultivation of this GM maize
type would not necessarily be profitable. Nor is the food industry
immediately affected since maize and soya are mainly used as fodder and
not directly for human consumption.
pivotal: opponents of genetic modification fear that when the Hungarian
moratorium expires, GM seed companies, using wide scale marketing and
free seed trials, will be able to persuade Hungarian farmers to
introduce GM crops into Hungary. The key issue is that, due to
uncertainty among consumers, all European food producers or
distributors, who care at all about their reputations, are forced to
buy materials that are guaranteed to be GM-free.
been able to award with a clear conscience – is vital to the export of
maize which has risen sharply in recent months. However, if someone in
Hungary were to start production of GM maize, all deliveries would have
to be thoroughly investigated for traces of genetically modified
organisms, which would entail enormous costs and lead to reduced
competitiveness. For that reason Agriculture Minister József Gráf is
insistent that Hungary should maintain its status as a GM-free country
for as long as possible, in order to increase the sale of Hungarian
maize and maize seeds abroad. The question is for how long it will be
possible to resist pressure from the EU and world trade, as well as
from opponents within Hungary.