General situation for GM crops in Romania
Initial survey conducted by AgroBiotechRom (Romania, www.agrobiotechrom.ro ) and Prof. Ioan Rosca, Universitatea de Stiinte Agricole si Medicina Veterinara, Bucharest, Romania
Romanian agricultural land area is about 15 million hectare (ha). The country is the third potato growing country in Europe and first for the area cultivated with maize. Improving crop production quantity and quality may bring Romania in a leading position on the European market of agricultural foodstuffs, seeds and derived products.
Maize (2.6 million ha, 11 720 million MT); wheat (2.0 million ha, 7.2 million MT); barley (0.4 million ha, 1.3 million MT); sunflower (1.0 million ha, 2 million MT); oilseed rape (0.4 million ha, 0.8 million MT). Weed infestations present a major challenge to all key crops, as well as newly emerging insect pests particularly in maize.
Research on plant biotechnology is performed by several groups working at universities and public research institutes. GM plants have been mainly used in fundamental research projects, though two promising publicly developed GM crops were obtained with market potential: plum resistant to Plum pox viruses and two potato varieties resistant to Colorado potato beetle. Following initial field trials, further development was not pursued.
Romania’s regulatory framework follows relevant EU Directives, with Ordinance 43/2007 (approved by law 247/2009) as the main legal mechanism regarding deliberate release of GMOs. Field trials are allowed for GM crops, as well as commercial cultivation of GM insect-resistant maize. Additional regulations exist that deal with co-existence, traceability and monitoring plans.
Experiences of farmers
Romanian farmers planted GM herbicide-tolerant soybeans prior to accessing the EU in 2007. In 2006, GM soybean production reached an area of around 144 000 ha, more than two-thirds of total soybean acreage. As GM soybean is not authorized for cultivation in the EU, its production in Romania became prohibited. Consequently, soybean farming was less profitable and declined drastically. Studies confirmed the important benefits of GM soybeans to farmers, including reduced use of herbicides, higher profits, and additional environmental benefits due to minimum tillage. GM insect-resistant maize is allowed for cultivation and covered an area of around 10 000 ha in 2010.