Minister: New aflatoxin limit, "strict control" of GMOs

Agriculture Dragan Glamočić says Serbia would in 2013 set the legal limit of aflatoxin contamination level in milk and livestock feed to 0.005 percent.

Source: Tanjug

This will be done "in order to bring its regulations in line with the EU standards," he said in Brussels on Tuesday.

"Our crops this year contain no aflatoxin, so we are going to change the livestock feed regulations very quickly, as well as the regulations on milk quality early next year," he told reporters after meeting with European Commission officials in Brussels.

"We will return the legal limit to 0.005 percent," he stated, adding that the officials he met in Brussels, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg and Director General for Agriculture Jerzy Plewa commented on the news positively.

The problem earlier was that the legal limit for aflatoxin in milk had been changed while th regulations regarding food stayed the same, which led to confusion, he explained.

"We are going back to the standards applied in the EU," Glamočić noted.

After harmful substances that appear in mouldy livestock feed and are then passed on to meat and dairy products were detected in Serbia earlier this year, the government raised the allowed limit of aflatoxin to 0.05 percent, which is ten times higher than the EU limit.

As for the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), the minister said that "Serbia will change the law that bans imports of products containing GMOs", but stressed that the trade in these products will be under "strict control."

"The existing law on GMOs is not safe for consumers and will have to be changed," Glamočić told reporters after his meeting with Tonio Borg and Jerzy Plewa.

The minister explained that this does not mean that Serbia will permit the cultivation of GMO crops, which has so far been banned, but that the trade in GMO products will be harmonized with the EU Acquis.

"We will have precisely defined regulations, so the health of consumers will not be at risk," Glamočić said, adding that GMO imports will be curbed, and sale strictly controlled.

He said that the blanket ban on the production and sale of GMO products that is currently valid in Serbia is "not only contrary to regulations of the EU and World Trade Organization (WTO), but also blocks imports of necessary medicines."

"Eighty to ninety percent of all medicines are produced from genetically modified organisms," he said, adding that GMO products will be visibly labeled, so consumers will know what they are buying.

In its annual report on Serbia, the European Commission noted two weeks ago that the Serbian law banning GMOs is contrary to rules in the EU and WTO which the country aspires to join.

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