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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 09:53 GMT
Hungary sets limits for GM crops
By Nick Thorpe
BBC News, Budapest

The EU grows less than 1% of the world's GM crops
Hungary's parliament has overwhelmingly backed legislation which severely restricts the planting of genetically modified crops (GMOs).

The Act came despite a plea from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for more liberal legislation.

Under the law, a buffer zone 400m (1,320ft) wide will have to exist between any GMOs and adjacent fields.

The written agreement of all landowners within that buffer zone will also be needed for planting to go ahead.

Farmers, environmentalists and scientists who oppose the introduction of GMOs worked closely with parliamentary deputies from both the governing and opposition parties on this legislation.

Critics of the legislation - led by biotech firms, some farmers and a vocal group of scientists in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences - say such stringent conditions will make it almost impossible to plant GMOs in Hungary.

Hungary, like Austria, Greece and Poland, already has a moratorium in place against one particular genetically-modified organism which is permitted elsewhere in the European Union.

The Act is seen as a way of pre-empting expected pressure from the European Commission to end that moratorium.

Hungary is the second-largest exporter of maize seed in the EU, second only to France.

Supporters of the legislation argued that the strong position of Hungarian grain on the European market was partly due to its label as a GMO-free product.

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