GENET archive


9-Misc: Romania should defend its agricultural interests, says U.S. expert

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Romania should defend its agricultural interests, says U.S. expert
SOURCE: Bucharest Daily News, Romania, by Andreea Pocotila
DATE:   24 Mar 2006

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Romania should defend its agricultural interests, says U.S. expert

Romania is a country with a great agricultural potential and it should
defend its interests in this field in front of the European Union, said
U.S. expert on agriculture matters, Charles Hanrahan. "Romania might
promote some interests, as at least on agriculture it will have to be
heard at the European Commission level," said Hanrahan yesterday.

He said after the EU accession Romania might become one of the big
agriculture powers in Europe because of its potential and of the high
number of people working in this field. The expert implied that Romania
might stand for the cultivation of genetically modified organism, as the
Minister of Agriculture forbid the crops of genetically modified soy
starting next year. Romania is the only country in Europe with modified
soy on large surfaces, on about 90,000 hectares of the total surface of
130,000 hectares cultivated with soy. The ministry is working on a draft
that will forbid the cultivation of such crops starting this year on
protected areas and on a surface of 15 kilometers around such areas.
Hanrahan said that forbidding these crops in Romania starting 2007 is
more a political decision mace by the authorities in the context of the
European Union accession and that might be reconsidered after the
integration. Hanrahan is not the only one who says the genetically
modified crops should be allowed, as the Monsanto company asked he
European Authority for Food Safety to permit cultivation of genetically
modified soy on the entire territory of the European Union.

The European Commission has so far authorized over 30 modified products
used in animal and human food that can be commercialized on the EU market
in accordance with the union's legislation.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Genetically modified soy trade expected to continue
SOURCE: Bucharest Daily News, Romania, by Robert Comanoiu detail.php?
DATE:   24 Feb 2006

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Genetically modified soy trade expected to continue _ _

Ecologists and traders believe that Romania's decision to forbid
genetically modified (GM) soy cultures beginning in 2007 will not impede
its presence on the European market, according to Reuters.

Romania is the only European producer of genetically modified soy;
however, representatives of ecological groups say that these cultures
should have been forbidden long before Romania was scheduled to enter the EU.

Two-thirds of Romanian soy cultures are genetically modified.

They are cultivated on an 88,000 hectare surface, 0.6 percent of
Romania's total agricultural surface.

American biotechnology companies Monsato Co. and Pioneer sold genetically
modified seeds to Romania ten years ago.

By 1989 Romania was the largest producer of soy in Europe.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Rural Development announced at
the beginning of February that modified soy cultures would be eliminated
beginning February 1, 2007 as to comply with EU laws.

These cultures are to be allowed this year, but producers have been
required to show on food product labels the presence of genetically
modified organism (GMO)'s.

Beginning June 30, producers of all genetically modified crops will be
obligated to label these products accordingly.

Until now this rule has been applied only to products containing
genetically modified soy and corn.

Ecologists said that an earlier ordinance pertaining to this sector would
have initiated producers to start developing traditional cultures, which
the authorities then should have monitored closely.

Ana Maria Bogdan, a representative for the organization Greenpeace,
believes that the restrictions should have been applied starting this year.

"The time is too brief to stop uncontrolled cultures.

The traditional cultures will be contaminated with GMO's after Romania's
EU accession," said Bogdan.

The representatives of ecological groups believe that GM cultures are
impossible to stop because of artificial breeding, natural dispersion of
seeds and illegal trade.

"It's chaos," said Ion Scurteli, the president of the Cereal Wholesalers
Employers Association and added that farmers sell seeds illegally which
may cause suspicions from EU consumers.

The government showed that additional regulations for the soy cultures
are being developed and compensation for their losses could be given.

"If financial support is required, the government will take this into
consideration," said the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Agriculture,
Adriana Tibu.

Soy cultivators who used genetically modified seeds and gave up natural
seeds, which cost more money, said that the future interdiction will
cause losses to soy producers.

Monsato Co. also expressed its disappointment concerning the government's

Jonathan Ramsay, a Monsato representative, explained that the most
affected producers will be those who reported double profits,
transforming Romanian soy production.

Madelyn Spirnak, a biotechnology advisor for the State Department of the
United States, said in September 2005, that genetically modified plants
could become the solution to climate changes that affected last years' crops.

Spirnak said experts from several countries, including neighboring
Bulgaria, are currently developing research programs for the creation of
drought-resistant and flood-resistant hybrids.

Among the benefits of this type of culture, the American expert
underlined their higher productivity, lower costs and the lowered risk of
soil erosion.

Constantin Sin, a councilor in the Ministry of Agriculture, said in
February 2005, that the average production of GM soy surged by 500
kilograms to 2.5 tons per hectare last year.

The soy is chiefly farmed in the southeastern part of the country, in
counties such as Braila, Calarasi and Ialomita.

Romanian consumers have been using imported edible oil from transgenic
soy for over 13 years.

In 2004, the leading countries producing genetically modified soy were
the United States - 47.6 million hectares, Argentina - 16.2 million
hectares, Canada - 5.4 million hectares and Brazil - 5 million hectares.

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
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