State secretary meets with Monsanto reps over GMO

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State secretary in charge of the Prime Minister's Office Mihály Varga on Tuesday met with representatives of the Hungarian unit of US agribusiness Monsanto to discuss genetically modified (GM) farming products.

Varga told the representatives from Monsanto Hungária that Hungary is fully committed to a GM-free policy. He noted that the country's new constitution even contains a paragraph on GM-free farming.

The Hungarian unit of US seed giant Monsanto last month appealed to the Budapest Municipal Court to suspend a resolution by Hungary's Agriculture Office ordering hybrid corn sold by the company to be torn up.

Monsanto Hungária said its own tests as well as one by an independent, accredited laboratory in France confirmed the company's DKC 3511 hybrid seeds contain no genetically modified compounds

Monsanto urged the government to have an independent laboratory confirm the results of the Agriculture Office's own test on the seeds or to allow the company to buy up the corn on the roughly 2,500 hectares affected.

Thousands of hectares of GM-tainted corn were destroyed in July. The corn was grown from Monsanto and Pioneer seed varieties.

Varga called the matter of hectares of corn being torn up after authorities discovered they were tainted with GM seeds "purely a professional question" which the company may clear up using any legal means. He welcomed Monsanto's efforts to cooperate with the Hungarian authorities and find a common solution to the problem.

Varga said investment conditions as well as the regulatory environment are expected to improve further in the future.

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