GENET archive


6-Regulation: Will the first law on GMOs protect Bulgarian people and environment?

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TITLE:  Will the first law on GMOs protect Bulgarian people and environment?
SOURCE: "GM free Bulgaria" Coalition
DATE:   1 Apr 2005

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Will the first law on GMOs protect Bulgarian people and environment?
"GM free Bulgaria" Coalition Statement on the new law for GMOs in Bulgaria

Before the passing of the new law on genetically modified organisms,
there was no single policy in Bulgaria regulating GMOs in laboratories,
neither in the environment, nor in food. With this law, a legislative
framework is made to set the conditions for GMOs under controlled
conditions (laboratories) and for release into the environment.

The Bulgarian Parliament adopted the GMO law after a long discussion
among politicians, representatives of environmental NGOs, and scientists.
The law was officially published as an act on 29 March 2005 in the State
gazette. Thanks to the effort of environmental NGOs, parliamentarians,
political parties, scientists and citizens, the first draft of the law
was to a great extent altered. Now, the adopted law is for most part in
line with EU legislation. Svetla Nikolova, chairperson of Agrolink, said:
"The law creates opportunities to establish a system of control and
enforcement, but additional efforts should be made to harmonize with all
EU legislation regarding GMOs and to assure a proper implementation of
the law."

The law can put an end to the uncontrolled release of GMOs into the
environment and contamination of agricultural crops as has happened in
the last years. Environmental NGOs perceive this law as a step ahead, and
hope the implementation of the law will not fail.

The first draft version of the law voted by the Parliament in February
2004 was not based on the general philosophy of the EU legislation. Even
more, participation of NGOs and civil society in the process of decision-
making on release of a GMO crop was not included. The creation of a
coalition "GMO Free Bulgaria" and the pressure of civil society,
parliamentarians, NGOs and scientists led to important alterations in the law.

This law protects several important crops for Bulgaria for release into
the environment: tobacco, rose for oil, grapevines, vegetables and
fruits, cotton and wheat, the first three crops even excluded from
genetical modification in controlled environments. However, the door for
the most common GM-crops like maize, soybean and rapeseed is open.

Environmental NGOs appreciate very much the decision of the parliament to
safeguard protected areas in the National Ecological Network and their
30-kilometers surrounding belt, and organic farms and their neighboring
fields against GM-crops.

In addition, the ban on release of GMOs containing genes for antibiotic
resistance is welcomed. Moreover, the law is harmonized with EU
directives 90/219/EEC and 2001/18/EC (on release of GMOs into the
environment), but lacks harmonization with Regulation 1829/2003 (on GM
food and feed), Regulation 1830/2003 (on traceability and labelling of
GMOs) and EU regulation 1946/2003 (on transboundary movement of GMOs).

Furthermore, the law runs short of several important issues. For example,
there is no guarantee yet that consumers will be informed about what they
consume. Also, the participation of non-governmental organisations in the
ministerial Commission for GMOs is limited and without any right to vote.
Koen De Rijck, GM campaigner for Agrolink and Za Zemiata, continues:
"Totally admissible is the lack of a compensation manner for affected
farmers. GM-free farmers and producers may in no single way be
disadvantaged by GM-producers and GM-industry selling for more profits."
Environmental NGOs propose the introduction of the polluter-pays-
principle, meaning that a GM-farmer can be held liable for the damage
caused by genetic contamination (unwanted presence of GMOs) in
neighboring conventional and organic fields.

The first and urgent task for the Parliament should be to harmonize the
whole legislation on GMOs and create opportunity for long-term surveys to
study the impacts of GMOs on environment and people's health.

The coalition continues to defend the initial declaration that Bulgaria
should be a GMO free region. Environmental NGOs consider that priority
should be on sustainable agriculture, a modern form of agriculture with a
future for farmers, communities, consumers, biodiversity and environment.

For more information, please contact "GM free Bulgaria" Coalition:

AGROLINK Association
+359 2 84 666 75

Environmental Association 'Za Zemiata'
+359 2 951 53 18

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TITLE:  Sofia Pushes for Gene Tests with Animals
SOURCE: Sofia News Agency, Bulgaria
DATE:   12 Mar 2005

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Sofia Pushes for Gene Tests with Animals

Genetic laboratory tests with animals will receive a greenlight in the
currently prepared bill on genetically modified (GM) organisms, Bulgarian
News Agency reported. However, it will be banned that those gene-modified
animals are released to live freely in natural medium, MPs from the
Environment Commission said. The texts in the legislation have been
strongly supported by Bulgarian scientists who insist such tests in
laboratories are necessary for the progress of genetics and its impact on
the development of other related sciences. Agro scientists have tried to
fight out the right to carry out laboratory tests with traditional
Bulgarian products, such as oil-producing rose, tobacco and vine, to
protect this nationally representative plants. Such are now banned after
protests from environmentalists and opponents to GM products.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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