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Genetically Modified Organisms in Eastern European agriculture: a risky path?

by Michele Tempera

Abstract

Food security and productivity of land are two of the main items which nowadays draw the attention to the agricultural world sector. The need to enlarge the quantity and frequency of every kind of harvest, has led to the employment of new technologies. Among them GMOs are under the spotlight for bring an innovative but problematic finding applied to agriculture.
After the “green” revolution started in the nineteen-sixties in western Europe, the cultural, environmental and productive landscape of that geographical and political area has changed considerably. The other European Union states, formerly belonging to the soviet block, have experienced similar patterns of development in agriculture, obtaining only in the last fifteen years the technologies and funds needed to transform this sector in line with the Common Agricultural Policy promoted by the European Commission and other leading communitarian institutions. The leading trend in this development towards modern concept of farming is represented by the agro-industrial model of crop growing.
The aim of this economic strategy is to increase the efficiency and total output of the farming sector, in order for the nations involved to virtually satisfy the domestic demand and become exporters of agricultural products instead of net importers. This is intended as the easy way out of the old-fashioned problems of supply seen as an inheritance of the soviet collective production model. This sort of “revolution” has already taken place and has been firmly established in eastern Europe through foreign investments and public EU funding schemes. The need to enlarge the quantity and frequency of every kind of harvest, has led to the employment of new technologies such as the widespread use of last generation chemical fertilizers and herbicides or pesticides. Inside this framework a controversial element is gaining ground in the EU agricultural policy, with a fastest rate of development registered in the eastern part of the continent: the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).
While Western Europe is refraining from the usage of this biotechnology (apart from certain specific cases which are rapidly growing in number), the former soviet countries are gladly, and often hastily, embracing this new tendency with regard both to human (indirect) and animal (direct) consumption.
GMOs are a decades old experimental technology and the effects on human health aren’t still clear as their impact hasn’t been fully evaluated yet. The only official tests conducted on this subject have been made by the same companies that are selling the biotech products on the market. The competent authorities in Europe and the national ones in eastern Europe didn’t have the time to assess the possible side effects on health of Genetically Modified Food and Feed. Moreover some of the lead technicians and executives that allowed the large scale commercialized GMOs, have past, recent or indirect connections with the biotech industry.
There are reports about the dangerous nature of this cultivations, but they’re not fully accountable as well for the same reason: whatever the health problems caused by GMOs are (if they really exists), they need to be observed and evaluated in the long run in order to be recognized and understood.
 
Original title: Genetically Modified Organisms in Eastern European agriculture: a risky path?

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