Slovakia turns back on ag biotechnology

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Farmers in Slovakia have changed direction on their approach to planting genetically engineered (GE) crops over the past decade, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In 2006, Slovak farmers planted 30 hectares of GE crops, a figure that grew to a record high 1,930 hectares in 2008. Now, there are no GE crops under development in the country.

“Demand for GE products, specifically including meat and dairy produced from animals fed GE-feed, has dwindled under the influence of antibiotech non-governmental organizations (NGOs), retailers, and neighboring countries (Austria, Hungary, and Germany),” the USDA said. “Where the Slovak government was previously supportive of biotechnology, they have since changed their stance, again likely in response to local messages originating from antibiotech NGOs and activist groups.”

Slovak farmers grew GE corn between 2006 and 2016, using it mainly for biogas production and for on-farm cattle feed, the USDA said. However, as neighboring countries adopted anti-GE positions Slovak farmers found a dwindling export market, and as a result halted the production of GE crops.

Meanwhile, Slovakia has no bans on importing GE crops. According to the USDA, the country imports bioengineered soybean meal, a main protein source for feed mixes. In 2017, Slovaki’s soybean meal imports totaled 90,093 tonnes, with most of the supply coming from neighboring European states with product shipped through the main European ports in The Netherlands and Germany.

In 2006, Slovak farmers planted 30 hectares of GE crops, a figure that grew to a record high 1,930 hectares in 2008. Now, there are no GE crops under development in the country.

“Demand for GE products, specifically including meat and dairy produced from animals fed GE-feed, has dwindled under the influence of antibiotech non-governmental organizations (NGOs), retailers, and neighboring countries (Austria, Hungary, and Germany),” the USDA said. “Where the Slovak government was previously supportive of biotechnology, they have since changed their stance, again likely in response to local messages originating from antibiotech NGOs and activist groups.”

Slovak farmers grew GE corn between 2006 and 2016, using it mainly for biogas production and for on-farm cattle feed, the USDA said. However, as neighboring countries adopted anti-GE positions Slovak farmers found a dwindling export market, and as a result halted the production of GE crops.

Meanwhile, Slovakia has no bans on importing GE crops. According to the USDA, the country imports bioengineered soybean meal, a main protein source for feed mixes. In 2017, Slovaki’s soybean meal imports totaled 90,093 tonnes, with most of the supply coming from neighboring European states with product shipped through the main European ports in The Netherlands and Germany.

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