New law on Genetically Modified Organisms

In spring 2005, the Bulgarian parliament adopted a new law on genetically modified organisms which came into force on the first of June 2005. The law concerns the use of GMOs under controlled conditions and their release into the environment. It was adopted by the parliament after long discussions among politicians, representatives of environmental NGOs and scientists. Thanks to the efforts of AGROLINK Association and Za Zemiata (For the Earth) together with other environmental NGOs, parliamentarians, political parties, scientists and citizens, the previous, very liberal draft of the law was to a great extent altered.

Now, the adopted law is mainly in line with EU legislation and for some parts even sets stricter conditions - alterations which have been made possible by the pressure of environmental NGOs and civil society. The new law prohibits several important crops for Bulgaria being released into the environment: tobacco, oil yielding rose, grapevines, all vegetables and fruits, cotton and wheat. However, the door for the most common GM-crops like maize, soybean and rapeseed is open. Furthermore, the law runs short of several important issues; for instance, doesn’t deal with conditions for labeling of processed GM-products for consumers’ information.

Yet, the environmental NGOs appreciate very much the decision of the parliament to safeguard protected areas in the National Ecological Network and a 30-kilometer surrounding belt as well as organic farms and their neighboring fields against GM-crops. In addition, the ban on the release of GMOs containing genes for antibiotic resistance is welcomed.