The participants in the debate “Does Croatia Need GMO Crops?”, held yesterday in Osijek, gave negative answer to that question. They also concluded that it is the ecological agricultural production that can bring great benefits for Croatia.
The GMO seeds didn’t get the support of a single participant. To the contrary, the panel supported the initiative of the Osijek Greens and the Croatian Environmental Press Centre, the organizers of the debate, to declare the Osijek-Baranja District GMO free area.
The debate was mediated by professor Marijan Jost, prominent Croatian scientist in the field of genetics and an outspoken opponent of genetically modified seeds and their use in Croatia.
Jost said that he was convinced that Croatia will be able to resist “the powerful global GMO lobbyists”, but that the success will depend on the “people who will sit on the competent committees”.
Jost added that the science, lamentably, lost its ethics when faced by the capital. He pointed out that in the US, the members of the scientific community that support the use of GMOs are well paid lobbyists of the multinational corporations.
"The claim that GM products are placed under strict scrutiny and control is not true,” said Jost. “Analyses show that GMO seeds don’t yield better crops. Quite to the opposite, the yields are weaker by 15% on average. Also, it is not true that they require less herbicides, for they need, for some crops, up to 30% more”, warned Jost, convinced that organic food has much better chances to be sold profitably in the global markets.
Ljiljanka Mitos-Svoboda, from the Osijek Greens, said that Croatia, under the obligations it accepted with the WTO membership, can’t close its borders to the imports of genetically modified food, but that the public has the right to be informed and decide what to buy on its own. It implies the obligation to declare the contents of the products. Mitos-Svoboda believes that the Law on GMOs, currently in the process of drafting, should clearly state the Croatia doesn’t need GMOs and that control and supervision have to be strict and efficient.
The Director of the Croatian Food Agency, Boris Antunovic, presented the organizers and participants with a letter of support of the need to debate this issue. In the letter, Antunovic emphasizes that the draft-Law on GMOs obligates the Government to permanently or temporarily restrict or prohibit GMO imports if they miss the proper scientific data on possible harmful consequences for the environment of human health.