Study hopes to validate GM ban in Cyprus

THE AGRICULTURE Ministry’s Environment Agency has signed an agreement with the Greek University of Thessaly to carry out a survey related to genetically modified crops in Cyprus.

A ten-member scientific team, from Cyprus and Greece, will undertake a study on the coexistence of genetically modified (GM), conventional and organic crops, in a bid to prove possible risks of such coexistence, aiming at the protection of agricultural products in Cyprus.

The study is expected to be concluded in 12 months.

Agriculture Minister Michalis Polynikis described the study as ‘revolutionary’ as for the first time ever, scientists would be looking into the coexistence of GM foods with conventional and organic crops, specifically centring on maize, potatoes and rapeseed.

“There will be an assessment of the environmental, economic and social impact, as well as an assessment of risk scenarios, which would include the possible fallout”, Polynikis said. 

The Minister noted that the ultimate goal of this study was to provide Cyprus with the scientific tools to enable a ban on cultivating GM products in Cyprus.

The Professor of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Thessaly, Dimitris Kouretas, said the scientific assessment of the possible coexistence would highlight risks which are likely to lead to the protection of agricultural products in Cyprus and to give them added value and cost. 

“All of this will be examined and we think there will be important benefits for Cyprus” said Kouretas.

The scientific team consists of ten scientists, with diverse activities in their field, especially on the issue of genetically modified organisms, with important scientific work in Greece and Europe. 

Cyprus since its accession to the EU in May 2004 has maintained a firm position against the authorisation of genetically modified organisms, aiming to protect human health, agriculture and environment. 

As Polynikis explained, Cyprus, due to its special characteristics, has managed to include a specific provision in the text of the conclusions of the Ministerial Environment Council in December 2008, which allow the country to implement specific management measures, restrictions and bans on the cultivation of genetically modified food.