Hungary’s Ministry of Agriculture believes that keeping Hungarian agriculture GMO-free is a matter of “extremely high strategic importance.” In fact, Hungary’s Constitution states that:
Hungary shall promote the effective application of the right referred to in Paragraph (1) by an agriculture free of genetically modified organisms, by ensuring access to healthy food and drinking water, by organising safety at work and healthcare provision, by supporting sports and regular physical exercise, as well as by ensuring the protection of the environment.
The European Parliament voted in January 2015 that member states who wish to ban cultivation of GMOs would be able to. Over the years, Hungary has worked diligently to protect its sovereignty for fears of metaphorically being “swallowed by a large predatory fish,” i.e., the United States.
In May 2015, Jobbik reported that “US bio- and farming technology firms are apparently exercising significant pressure to soften European food safety regulations. He [Zoltán Balczó] specifically mentioned GMO’s potential further market penetration in Europe.”
Despite worries that the bullying of U.S. corporations may thwart EU nations’ efforts to ban GMO crops, Hungary is still moving forward with plans to produce “GMO-free milk, meat and egg products.”
Hungary is serious about their position on GMOs. In May 2015, the government decided to provide subsidies to farmers in an effort to “promote GMO-free soya production.” With soy being one of the most commonly used animal protein feeds, it is a staple product for farming and agriculture. The world’s leading soy producers, Brazil, the U.S. and Argentina, grow GMO soy on roughly 85-99% of the land used for soy farming.
In a bid to encourage non-GMO soy farming in the nation, the Hungarian government has said it “will provide 60,000 forints (EUR 198) per hectare for soya farmers until 2020.” Dr. Zsolt Feldman, the Assistant Secretary of State for Agriculture, has said that Hungary annually imports nearly half a million of tons of soybeans which are “not necessarily GMO-free.”
The country recognizes that an animal product cannot be considered GMO-free if the animal was consuming GMO feed. If the nation takes the step to move away from the import dependence on soy beans, then it could easily grow non-GMO food for the whole country without relying on any outside sources. Unlike the United States, which is heavily dependent on importing food, Hungary could easily become a nation completely independent of others for their food supply.
In 2011, Hungary destroyed 1,000 acres of maize when it was discovered that the corn had been grown from genetically modified seeds. The commitment that the nation has to removing influence from the United States and corporations like Monsanto is commendable, and will likely serve Hungarians well in times of such uncertainty, and especially now with economic and war refugees flowing into their country daily by the thousands.