Following the wave of protests against a bill of amendments that would allow genetically-modified organisms (GMO) to be grown in Bulgaria, the country's ruling party will now propose a five-year ban on all genetically-modified cultures in the country, it emerged on February 5 2010.
The ban would affect all crops and the entire country, Environment Minister Nona Karadjova said. Now, there is a ban on some crops in parts of the country, she said.
The measure was a compromise, Karadjova said, between the strong public opposition to GMOs and the European Union regulations, which preclude an outright ban on laboratory and commercial cultivation.
The initial amendments, which were passed at first reading by Parliament, allowed cultivation of genetically-modified tobacco, vines, cotton, rose, wheat and vegetables. The bill did not allow cultivation in areas protected under the EU's Natura 2000 programme, but lowered the minimum distance from protected areas at which such crops could be cultivated.
About 300 people protested in the centre of Sofia against proposed amendments to the Genetically Modified Foods Act (GMFA) on January 31 2010.
Protests were held in front of the National Library, under the motto "Clean food, a healthy earth! Bulgaria GM foods free." Later, protesters marched to the buildings of Bulgarian National Television and the Bulgarian Parliament.
The protesters demanded any decision on loosening GM foods restrictions to be postponed until a wider public debate on the topic had been held.