Cablegate: 2004 Gmo and Biosafety Developments in Croatia

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 259661

1. Reftel requested an update on biosafety issues in
preparation for the next meeting of the parties to the Cartagena
Protocol. As an EU candidate country, Croatia will almost
certainly follow the EC lead on any biosafety or GMO issue.
Following is an overview of recent developments on these issues.

2. Three laws passed in 2003 (the Law on Food, the Law on Nature
Protection, and the Law on Consumer Protection) establish a
regulatory framework for the introduction of GMO crops and foods
to Croatia; in fact, given the absence of a working registration
system, they constitute a de-facto ban on GMO products.
Responsibility for biotech policy is divided among three

3. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Management
shares responsibility with the Ministry of Culture for licensing
and testing GMO seeds. The Ministry of Agriculture is also
responsible for "cleaning-up" unauthorized GMO release into
nature. Minister of Agriculture Petar Cobankovic has taken it
upon himself (above and beyond the law) to compensate farmers
whose land was contaminated by the unauthorized release of
Pioneer GMO seeds this summer; currently the Ministry is suing
Pioneer to recoup its expense. The case is likely to be tied up
in Croatian courts for years.

4. The Ministry of Culture is responsible for "nature
protection": regulating the release into nature of GMOs. When
the GoC passed the Law on Nature Protection in 2003, the nature
protection portfolio originally fell to the Ministry of
Environment; in January 2004, a newly-elected GoC shifted
responsibility for registering and licensing GMO seeds to the
Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture is also responsible
for insuring GMO seeds are not planted on any of Croatia's
numerous protected areas.

5. A GoC bill on novel foods has passed its first reading in
the Parliament, and will be taken up again in early 2005. The
law is designed to establish a clear regulatory and licensing
procedure for GMO crops and food. It has been painted as a
necessary part of EU legislative harmonization, and though it
would allow GMOs on the Croatian market, press reports focus on
the great difficulties the law would impose of potential GMO
importers and harsh financial penalties for unauthorized GMO
release. The Institute for Public Health houses the only in-
country facility capable of testing foods for GMOs.



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