Hungarian parliament passes strict GM crop law

On 27 November 2006, the Hungarian parliament enacted a new law on genetically modified crops. The legislation significantly complicates the cultivation of GMOs. Diplomats believe the law to be a pre-emptive action in case the European Commission requires Hungary to lift its ban on the GM maize line MON810. All government parties and the opposition supported the new Act.

The new legislation sets high hurdles to growing GM crops: between GM and non-GM cultivations, an isolation distance of 400 metres will be required. In addition, all landowners and landusers within this zone must give their written consent to the GM cultivation.

Farmers generally favour the law, but point out that it may discriminate against individual farmers, since owners and farmers of large fields will be able to cultivate GM crops more easily than is possible for cultivators on small fields. Supporters, however, point out that the large success of Hungarian agriculture is due largely to the fact that all products may be sold as "GM free“ and that this is especially important for the production of seeds. Hungary is the second-largest exporter of maize seeds.