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Budapest Hosts World Seed Congress As Hungary Retains Anti-GMO Stance

Tamás Székely 2017.05.22.

Innovation is key to ensuring sustainable seed production and mitigating the effects of global challenges, including climate change, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjartó told the World Seed Congress in Budapest on Monday.

“The sector faces lasting challenges warranting global consensus,” Szijjartó said. The pressure is enormous as due to population growth, water shortage, floods and extreme weather conditions, the food industry and agriculture will have to produce an amount of food equivalent to the last 10,000 years’ total supply in a span of just 40 years, he said. Hungary takes its global responsibilities very seriously, Szijjarto said, noting that it was the first EU country to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement. Seed export grew by 7 percent in corn, 57 percent in wheat and 34 percent in sunflower seeds last year, he said.

Hungary exports 30 percent of the seed produced in the country, which amounts to about 100,000 tonnes a year. The main markets are France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Slovakia. Annual revenue of the Hungarian seed industry is around 100 billion forints (EUR 324m).  The minister said that Hungary’s achievements in water management and seed production are utilized in several countries. The country’s agriculture is currently totally free on genetically modified (GMO) products, and the government is adamant in resisting all pressure to allow genetic modification in the sector, Szijjartó said.

Addressing the congress, Jean-Christophe Gouache, President of the International Seed Federation (ISF), said that the greatest challenge for the sector to face in the coming decades will be to produce a sufficient amount of quality seeds to cater for a growing population worldwide. He also stressed the importance of reducing plant health risks worldwide.

Nearly 1700 experts from 62 countries are attending the four-day congress.

via MTI; photo: Tibor Illyés – MTI