GMO in Croatia

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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
  • Cancer
  • 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.

Quick facts

Image by Europa.eu

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.

Individual counties

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.

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8 thoughts on “GMO in Croatia

  1. Roy
    October 20, 2016 @ 8:23 pm

    This is really good to learn. I had heard that Croatia was pretty strict regarding GMO production and products, but the ban in all counties is nice to hear. I wonder what the status is of the German Bayer buy-out of Monsanto… And, for that matter, Monsanto's appearance at the UN tribunal recently??

    On another note, I'm really intrigued about developments in Croatia regarding industrial hemp production over the last several years. If you have more information I'd love to see it. I know that industrial hemp fields have been allowed since about 2013, and that only the flowers are cultivated and shipped to Slovenia and elsewhere for commercial hemp seed oil production. The rest of the plant (which can be two meters+ high) is destroyed by the authorities to prevent abuse (?!) or further illegitimate use of the plant – a shameful economic waste when there are dozens of markets for the discarded portion of the hemp stalk… But whatever; even baby-steps into these emerging markets are refreshing.

    I hope this comment isn't too far afield for your blog. Cujemo se!

    {reply}

    • Sara Expat in Croatia
      November 7, 2016 @ 11:56 am

      Hi Roy,

      Thank you for the comments! Croatian has made some progressive steps, but it is still a very conservative country. For hemp specifically, they approved medical uses in very extreme medical cases in the last couple of years.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  2. Paola
    December 8, 2019 @ 8:55 pm

    I think that the thing of GMOs that you say is innapropriate, because maybe people like GMOs. So…

    GMOs are safe. :p

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      December 13, 2019 @ 4:48 pm

      Hi Paola,

      I don’t know if people “like” GMOs. More like people dislike them or they tolerate them. I’ve never heard of anyone seeking out a GMO product because they prefer it to nature. But hey, you never know. 🙂

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  3. Edith
    December 18, 2019 @ 12:55 pm

    Hi Sarah,
    loved the article and finding out more about GMO here, thanks! Could you disclose which counties still sell GMO products?

    Just another clarification: “Meat and dairy products produced from GMO-fed animals can be imported and don’t need to be declared”, does it mean they are also coded starting with 8…and properly labeled?

    Thanks
    e

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      December 19, 2019 @ 12:41 pm

      Hi Edith,

      Thanks for the question!

      We ruthlessly researched this to find which counties are allowing the sale of GMOs and could not find it. There is one page we referenced 6 years ago when we first wrote this article that broke it down by county, but that post has not been updated since and we did not feel comfortable referencing it anymore since it was written pre-EU.

      For meat and dairy, yes, they SHOULD have a product code starting with 8. However, this is Croatia and “should” doesn’t mean “is” unfortunately. I will say that in my experience, meat suppliers that do offer non-GMO tend to put that on their packaging or signage, like Purex for example.

      Cheers,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • Edith
        December 21, 2019 @ 12:08 pm

        Thanks a lot Sarah for looking into this and for your prompt reply!

        {reply}

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