Serbia will not be admitted to the World Trade Organization this year

Serbia will not be admitted to the World Trade Organization this year, and the reason is that the new law on genetically modified organisms has not been passed, meant to allow their circulation. The harmonization of the legislation in this field is also asked for by the EU, but...

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Serbia will not be admitted to the World Trade Organization this year



Balkans.com Business News Correspondent - 09.12.2013

Serbia will not be admitted to the World Trade Organization this year, and the reason is that the new law on genetically modified organisms has not been passed, meant to allow their circulation. The harmonization of the legislation in this field is also asked for by the EU, but their regulations also contain the protective clauses in line with the rules on food safety. However, in Serbia there is strong resistance to the GMO, primarily among the citizens and the non-governmental sector, so a compromise solution is needed. Biljana Blanusa has prepared today’s Economic Chronicle.
The harmonization of the national and European legislation in the area of GMO would enable Serbia to meet the conditions for joining the EU and the WTO. It practically means that Serbia should approve the circulation only for those cultures that are already accepted in the EU, as defined by the safety clauses, in order to keep the risk for citizens’ health to minimum. The Ministry of Agriculture has communicated that the new law will not allow the cultivation of the GMO on the Serbian territory, nor the import of such products for human consumption. The purpose of the law is to regulate the market in this regard, to introduce declarations for such products, so that the consumers would have the information about the composition of the groceries they buy. The parliamentary board for agriculture has also taken the stance that the health of the population should be protected, so they support the announced amendments to the law.
Still, the Civic Initiative “Serbia without GMO” and several other associations and NGOs have organized a protest rally in Belgrade, asking for the introduction of a moratorium on the circulation and utilization of the genetically modified food, and for a referendum on that issue. According to professor Miladin Sevarlic from the Belgrade Faculty of Agriculture, the stance of the companies that are involved with the production of the genetically modified food, saying there is no evidence of harmful effects to human health, is simply not correct. Namely, there are no results of representative and independent scientific research to show that the genetically modified organisms are safe for the human consumption. People are not ready to buy products if they suspect their damaging effects, just like they would not be buying cars if the sellers could not guarantee their being safe for driving.
The Association of Independent Consumer Protection Organizations also demands the strict protection from the GMO. They underline that the consumers should have full information on the products that contain GMO, which means there must be a clear warning label on the packaging, such as the ones on the cigarette packs. This association reminds that the law on consumer protection, adopted in 2005, treats the circulation of the GMO as an economic violation, with threatened sanction of three million dinars for legal entities.
Although Serbia is striving to become a member of the WTO, it is not bound to accept the circulation of the GMO. The majority of 159 members in that organization did not accept it, including many European countries, like France, Norway, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland. There are only 28 countries in the world that have fully approved the circulation of the genetically modified food, so it is possible for Serbia to harmonize its obligations towards international integrations with national interests in protecting the health of the population. Radio Srbija


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