It is almost certain Serbia will have to soften its position on the ban on GMO cultivation, but it is important that we do not get ahead of the EU on the matter, says Vukosav Saković, head of Serbia Grains, an association for advancement of production and exports of grains, oil seeds and products.
Serbia aspires to membership in the World Trade Organization, but it must allow distribution of GMOs in its territory before it can join the organization.
Agriculture Minister Branislav Nedimović has announced that experts of the newly-established Food Safety Council would have the final say on the matter.
Any political decision before the one to be made by the 15 experts in the body would be premature, the minister said.
In February this year, Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic said that Serbia’s entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is hampered by its laws against genetically modified organisms (GMO), which not only ban GMO cultivation in Serbia, but GMO food imports too.
“The WTO believes that no country should have an explicit ban on the trade of any product. When we meet this requirement, then we can talk about entry,” Ljajic said, adding that he is not optimistic about Serbia’s short-term prospects for WTO membership.
“In the short-term I’m not very optimistic because there is a lot of pressure and public resistance to change. After all, 163 countries are WTO members, Russia joined a few years ago, and 25 (countries) are in the process of joining. So, it’s a great shame that we are not joining the WTO,” he continued.
Russia, which joined the WTO in 2012, banned the cultivation of GMO food in July 2016, except for scientific research. Importers of GMO products must comply with a strict registration procedure.
Under EU law, individual countries are allowed to restrict or ban the cultivation of GM crops within their borders. Countries including Italy, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg have banned the introduction of GMO crops.
(EWB, Sputnik News, 03.05.2017)
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