“Hungary could be the first to introduce the new European Union regulations allowing countries to ban the cultivation of GMO crops”, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Deputy State Secretary for Environmental Affairs told Hungarian news agency MTI in Berlin on Friday.

In his statement following the “GMO-free Europe” conference, Dr. András Rácz stressed that in addition to transposing the new regulations into Hungarian law, the Government is also working on introducing a new labelling system by the end of the year that would enable foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and honey to be labelled as GMO-free if certified as not containing GMOs and livestock receive only GMO-free feed.

The Berlin Manifesto adopted at the conference, which ended on Friday, also recommends the development and swift application of similar labelling systems throughout the EU, Mr. Rácz noted, stressing that the document is in harmony with the Hungarian Government’s “decidedly pro GMO-free” politics. The meeting, which was attended by representatives from over 60 countries, was a “fitting continuation” of the conference entitled “How to maintain GMO-free agriculture in Europe“, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture in April, he added.

The Deputy State Secretary pointed out that keeping the country GMO free is even included in Hungary’s constitution and the country has come to a broad consensus on the issue that is irrespective of political affiliations. The Government would also like to contribute to ensuring that as many EU member states as possible become GMO-free zones, and this is why Minister of Agriculture Sándor Fazekas has launched the “Alliance for a GMO-free Europe” initiative.

The Berlin conference is also closely linked to the Hungarian Government’s efforts, Mr. Rácz added. The Berlin Manifesto, which was developed with the involvement of over 400 participants, including governments, international organisations and the European Commission as well as representatives of professional and non-governmental organisations and other experts and researchers in the field, primarily stresses the importance of introducing the new EU directive.

The document also calls for the development of a European Protein Strategy to reduce high dependence on genetically manipulated soy imported into Europe in large quantities, the Deputy State Secretary said.

With relation to negotiations on the proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the United States, the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Berlin Manifesto stresses that any agreement should not endanger the results achieved so far with relation to keeping countries GMO-free or the rights of member states to decide on the issue, Mr. Rácz added.

The Government is convinced that maintaining Hungary’s GMO-free status is the only right choice, because it is the only way to ensure that families have access to safe and sustainably produced food and to preserve natural diversity and the competitiveness of Hungarian agriculture, he stressed.

(Ministry of Agriculture/MTI)