According to the Law on Genetically Modified Organisms, production and sale of GM foods are prohibited in Serbia.
However, experts warn that these products are most likely a part of our everyday food consumption since we eat processed food of foreign origin.
The Ministry of Agriculture is yet to react to an article published in the Vecernje Novosti that claims that we eat GM food that is imported.
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Gordana Šurlan Momirović, a geneticist and professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, says that she thinks that we do not eat GM foods, but that various people are making uneducated statements about GM products just to get some attention. She also reminds that, according to the relevant regulation in Serbia, the production and sale of GM foods is ban, adding that the harmfulness of such products is not yet proven.
“GM food has only traces of genetically modified organisms. For instance, soybean mixture, containing 0.9% of GMO, is allowed to be used as livestock fodder. We do not eat that soybean mixture, the cattle does. Although we do eat beef and port, we are not directly exposed to GMO. There is a very small percentage of the land where genetically modified soy is grown. All these stories (about people consuming GM food) are aimed creating panic, “says Momirovic and adds that even if we eat GMO food, no harm will be done because that food is neither carcinogenic nor harmful.
Cvijan Mekica, a professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, says that there is research that shows that GMO is used primarily in crop production.
“Bio-engineering has been mapping desirable genes to increase crop yield and drought resistance. The biggest problem is GM soy, that is, the antibiotics that are used in its production, so that the soy is resistant to herbicide treatment,”says Professor Mekic.
He also notes that there is a study on the negative effects of GM foods. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of food in America contains a certain level of GMO.
“The problem lies in the fact that various enzymes are incorporated into food, like the genes that keep the fruit fresh. The question is how the enzymes will work in our body. Usually, they cause allergies, and disturb the microflora of the digestive system. The fruits that we export are sometimes returned to us because we use herbicides uncontrollably, which are very dangerous,” he says.
On the other hand, Professor Šurlan Momirović says that people in Serbia are being deceived into thinking that GM food is toxic and dangerous. She adds that there is an anti-GMO lobby, which is strongly against the use of GM food.
“There is a political background to claims that we eat GM food in Serbia. Even my colleagues who know that this food is not dangerous are opposed to it because they belong to a certain political option. Let’s be honest here! Americans are not overweight because of GM food, but because of consumption of junk food”, concludes Šurlan Momirović.
(Nova Ekonomija, 29.01.2019)
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