New legislation on genetically modified seeds in Hungary

By Andrea Simándi, Ildikó Scholz, Bálint Halász


On 14 July 2011, after discovery of maize fields polluted with GMOs, the Ministry of Rural Development passed an amendment of the decree concerning GM seeds. The amendment entered into force on 15 July 2011. According to the government the purpose of the amendment is to maintain the GMO-free status of Hungary.

In early July the competent authorities ordered the destruction of approximately 950 hectares of maize claiming that seeds were polluted with genetically modified organisms (GMO). Further 2,500 hectares are also under inspection since the concerned fields may have been also affected by contaminated seeds. 

According to the new amendment in the case of Hungarian distribution of seeds of maize, rise, soy, oilseed rape and linseed originating from a non EU-member country the importer has to file a protocol issued by a Hungarian laboratory stating the GMO-free status of the seeds with the Hungarian Central Agricultural Office. The importer has to bear the costs of preparation of the protocol.

Pursuant to the amendment it is prohibited to put into circulation or cultivate GM seeds and propagation substances in Hungary. If the seed is produced in Hungary the manufacturer is liable that seed is free of GMOs. In other cases the liability is on the first distributor. If the seeds are affected with GMOs the possessor is obliged to notify others in the distribution chain and also the Central Agricultural Office. The Office will order seizure of seeds which shall be destroyed on the costs of the possessor.