GMO, which stands for “genetically modified organism”, refers to any plan, animal, or microorganism whose genetic makeup has been messed with in a lab. This results in the creation of things that don’t occur in nature.
Why is GMO a big deal?
GMO is relatively new, so much so that there isn’t any definitive consensus on whether they are the cause of health problems.
However, some research has shown that genetically-modified products can cause or lead to:
- Allergic reactions
- Antibacterial resistance
- Gene transfer
There are also concerns about the effects they have on the environment, since they inevitably cross breed and introduce non-natural elements into nature affecting how the food chain functions.
How does Croatia handle GMO
Croatia leans towards the protection against trans-boundary pollution and preservation of traditional agricultural production, biodiversity, and tourism. After joining the European Union, Croatia introduced new legislation called “Zakon o genetski modificiranim proizvodima” (Law on Genetically Modified Products).
This new law was implemented to align Croatian legislation with EU directives, however it did not lead to any significant changes in the regulation of genetically-modified organisms (called “genetski modificirani organizmi”) in Croatia.
The EU leaves GMO-related decisions to the discretion of its members. Every EU member country has the right to decide for itself whether to import and grow genetically-modified products and how much is allowed, how to label them, etc.
In Croatia, any product that contains more than 0,9% of GMO is considered genetically-modified and must be labeled as such. This is less than the 1% standard in most EU countries.
Here is the latest information you should know about GMO in Croatia:
- Croatia does allow the import of GMO products, but companies must get government approval first
- GMO crops are banned
- Sowing genetically-modified seeds is not permitted even for experimental purposes
- 73% of Croatians have a negative opinion about genetically-modified products
- Meat and dairy products produced from GMO-fed animals can be imported and don’t need to be declared
- Products that contain, consist of, or are produced from genetically-modified rapeseed, soybean, corn, and cotton can be sold on the Croatian market
- Croatian Ministry of Health’s inspections showed that 10-20% of food contains GMO
Croatia’s agreement with the World Trade Organization prevents the state from banning the import of GMO products. The silver lining is that genetically-modified food must be clearly marked so that people know what they are buying.
In a previous version of this post from 2013, we stated that each county in Croatia could decide whether or not to allow the sale of GMO products. All but 3 counties banned the sale of these products.
We were not able to confirm whether or not this is still the case. Presumably this is no longer the case since Croatia joined the EU. If we are able to confirm this, we will post an update here.
How to avoid GMO in Croatia
Any product that is GMO will have a product code that starts in 8. For example, a GMO banana would be coded 84.011, but a non-GMO banana would be coded 94.011.
There are a plethora of health food stores across Croatia, the biggest of which is Bio & Bio, where you can find organic and natural foods. For non-GMO poultry, head over to Purex which has locations across the country. When shopping on the pazar, buy local, in-season produce from small farmers. If the produce was grown in Croatia, then it is guaranteed that it is non-GMO.