General situation for GM crops in the Czech Republic
Pilot survey conducted by Mgr. Zdeňka Svobodová, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
The government of the Czech Republic encourages the use of modern technologies in research, industry, and agriculture on the condition of assuring the protection of human health and the environment, through science-based assessments of environmental risks and human health impacts.
Wheat (831 000 ha); barley (455,000 ha); oilseed rape (355 000 ha); maize (105 000 ha); sugarbeet (47 000 ha). These key crops are affected by pests and diseases; for instance, the most important cereal pest, powdery mildew, causes crop losses averaging 10-15 per cent and in some cases up to 45 per cent.
The Czech Republic has an active agricultural R&D community, and has ongoing GM experiments, under laboratory conditions and in field trials, on economically important crops such as wheat, maize, barley, potato and sugarbeet. Research is mainly targeted at stress tolerance, for example, addressing powdery mildew resistance in wheat. In 2011, six field experiments were carried out with various GM maize, three with sugar beet, two with potatoes, one with flax, plum tree, tobacco, pea, and barley.
The country has a functional biosafety legal framework, managed by the Ministry of Environment, following the principles laid down in EU Directives. It allows for the commercial cultivation of insect-resistant GM maize, and the starch-modified potato Amflora.
Experiences of farmers
Czech farmers have planted GM insect-resistant maize since 2005, and starch-modified potatoes since 2010. In a 2009 survey conducted by the Ministry of Environment, GM maize farmers reported higher yields ranging from 10% to 30%, and important savings on pesticides. They also cited important administrative requirements as an obstacle, such as those related to procedures for notification, co-existence and identity preservation.