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Dec 27, 2012 15:52 Moscow Time

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It’s no time for joking in Serbia: the ban on GMOs currently in force could spoil the country’s relations with the United States, and close the doors of the WTO for Belgrade. A statement to this effect was made the other day by representative of the American Embassy in Serbia Victoria Nibarger.

Serbian defenders of healthy eating cannot but curse at the already passed stages on the way to the WTO and the adoption of the Codex Alimentarius. This is a set of food standards, which implies, in particular, high levels of growth hormones in meat. Ecologists cite the case of an eight-year-old girl from Belgrade who is experiencing premature puberty and intensive hair growth because of these hormones taken with food. Some experts assert that when such “precocious” children come of age, they face a risk of breast or prostate cancer, depending on their gender.

Anti-transgenic sentiments are strong in Serbia. They impose GMO on us in order to sterilize our nation, Executive Director of the Novi Sada Ecological Movement Nikola Aleksich says in an interview with the Voice of Russia:

“Serbia is experiencing serious problems because of the illegal import of GMOs. 350 thousand married couples cannot conceive a child. And as for the increasing number of cases of cancer in Serbia, nobody dares to speak about it, these data are secret.”

For the past two decades scientists around the world have been arguing about the dangers of GMOs, and Russia is no exception. Doctor of Biological Sciences and international expert on environmental and food security Irina Ermakova believes that very inefficient technologies are used when GMOs are being created, that’s why such products cannot be safe by definition:

“During my experiments I added genetically-modified soya to the food of female rats. I was interested in what would happen to their progenies. More than 50% of young rats died in the first two-three weeks, about one half of the remaining rats were physically underdeveloped and they were not procreant. Later these studies were repeated with mice and hamsters in other Russian institutes and the results were the same: infertility. Many similar studies, independent of transnational corporations, are being carried out in the world, and they all show negative results. This means the deterioration of internal organs and cancer. Foreign colleagues have brought attention to the fact that companies often test the impact of GMOs during the first two-three months, but huge tumors appear during the 4th – 5th month.”

GMOs are accompanied by a trade war, and during the war the end justifies the means, including juggling facts and half-truths, Vadim Lebedev says.

In fact, this is not only an ecological issue, but also an economic one as well. It is indicative that one of the main lobbyists of GMOs in Serbia is the MK Grupa Company, which is a representative of the Monsanto Corporation, the main supplier of GMO seeds in the world. Executive Director of Novi Sada Ecological Movement Nikola Aleksich believes that if Serbia gives the go-ahead to transgenic seeds, it will find itself in economic slavery:

“We have several producers of seeds, which are widely known, including in Russia. If the country allows the GMO seeds, these institutions will close, five thousand people will lose their jobs, and Serbia will become dependent on the products of the Monsanto Corporation. And the purchase of their products will cost a minimum of 180 million euros per year. Thousands of farmers in India have committed suicide because the activities of Monsanto literally led them in a debtor’s prison. In addition, Europe and the whole world are interested in organic agricultural products, which Serbia can supply. Thus, after adopting GMOs, we will lose a promising market.”

It is well known that removing the ban on GMOs is one of the conditions of accession to the World Trade Organization. Belgrade is used to endless “must” and “should”: in Serbia, they even joke that the end of the world did not come because the country did not fulfill the preconditions of the Apocalypse. However, the “chain” is much longer, because membership in the WTO, in its turn, is the necessary option for admission to the EU, which Serbia is so eager to join. Deputy Chairman of the Party of United Pensioners of Serbia Konstantin Arsenovich has recently pointed out that, in principle, there was a possibility of becoming a member of the WTO, and at the same time protecting the country from genetically modified products, like some of the member countries of the EU had already done. But in this case it is necessary to develop a unified national strategy, and Serbia is, obviously, not ready for this so far.

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