Serbia has not yet adopted any changes to the current Law on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), despite a strong reaction from the U.S., the EU and other WTO members.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
Required Report - public distribution
GAIN Report Number: RB1207
Agricultural Biotechnology Annual
Biotech Annual Report
Serbia has not yet adopted any changes to the current Law on Genetically Modified Organisms
(GMOs), despite a strong reaction from the U.S., the EU and other WTO members. When adopted, the
amended Law on GMOs will represent the general framework for biotechnology in Serbia. Thus, the
country will fully harmonize its regulations with the EU policy and will allow imports and growing of
biotech crops and products, but under strict control of the State. Restrictive Law on GMOs is
continuing to be one of the main obstacles for the Serbian future accession to the WTO.
Section I. Executive Summary:
Because of the Law on Genetically Modifies Organisms (GMOs) adopted in 2009, Serbia prohibits
strictly all imports, production, and commercial growing of GMO crops or products containing GMOs.
This law was adopted without any scientific basis and represents one of the main obstacles to Serbia‟s
WTO accession process. Beside a ban on trade and commercial cultivation of GMO products, law is
extremely problematic in the compliance with WTO rules.
After strong reaction from the U.S., the EU, and other WTO members, over the last three years, Serbian
trade and agriculture officials recognized the problems to the international trade caused by the restrictive
Law on GMOs adopted in 2009, but no changes to the law have been done so far. It is expected that,
when adopted, the new amended GMO Law and other by-laws will be fully in accordance with EU
Directives on biotechnology 2001/18/EC, No.1829/2003, 1830/2003, 65/2004, and 641/2004. The
proposed amendments will allow to import and grow biotech crops and products, but only under very
strict control of the State. Amended Law on GMO will represent the general framework on
biotechnology in Serbia, while all specifics will be regulated by additional eight by-laws that are
planned to be adopted immediately after passing a new amended GMO Law. The additional eight by-
laws will cover the use of GMOs in closed systems, the placing of GMOs on the market, labeling and
traceability, authorized laboratories and others. In addition to those new by-laws, there will be some
changes in terminology in already existing four by-laws.
Marketing or promotion of GMO food does not exist in Serbia. There is a strong, negative public
attitude towards the acceptance of biotech crops and products derived from GMO crops. Consumer
awareness of GMOs is very low and public discussions of biotechnology related issues are very limited.
Currently there is no foreign company in Serbia engaged in biotech experimental research.
USDA has been assisting in developing Serbia‟s capacities in the research and regulations of
agricultural biotechnology since 2001. Through numerous seminars, workshops, and field visits (both
in Serbia and in the United States), USDA/OCBD has trained Serbian participants to critically examine
the technical and economic aspects of biotechnology policies and pursue strategies to optimize their
implementation. USDA technical assistance activities on biotech included also the assistance to Serbian
scientists in designing and conducting field trials of genetically modified crops. Since mid-2009 until
the end of 2010, USDA technical assistance was targeted at assisting Serbian biotech experts in
preparing amendments to the Law on Biotechnology. In 2010, FAS Belgrade organized a visit of a
biotech speaker to Serbia, as a part of the State Department‟s Program “Biotech Outreach Strategy.”
FAS Belgrade is planning to organize a new visit of a biotech expert to Serbia in fall 2012, in order to
demonstrate the benefits of biotech agricultural products and practices in order to improve the
understanding of biotech agricultural issues among Serbian policy makers and the public.
Section II. Plant Biotechnology Trade and Production:
Because of the GMO Law adopted in June 2009, Serbia does not produce any GMO crops and no
biotechnology varieties are permitted for imports to Serbia. According to this law, biotechnology crops
are only allowed for laboratory work, research, and field tests. Imports of biotech crops and products
(including soybean meal that was allowed for import before this law), soybeans, and corn are
prohibited. All shipments of soybeans, corn, potato, rapeseed, and their products entering Serbia must
be tested for GMO content, and are allowed to be imported only if they are GMO-free.
Imports of RR soybeans for crushing or other commercial purpose are not allowed in Serbia. The
current law does not prohibit the research work with genetically modified organisms, but puts them
under the strict supervision of the State. Permits for research work and contained use of biotech
materials can be obtained from the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture after meeting the State‟s regulatory
According to the 2009 Law on GMOs, Serbia is no longer able to import soybean meal from Round-Up
Ready soybeans or feed stuffs that contain GMO soybean meal. Thus, for the past three years, local
cattle feed producers were left to buy only locally produced soybean meal―very often with much
higher price than in other EU countries― allowing imports of RR soybean meal. The leading producer
of soybean meal in Serbia is the largest soybean crushing facilities in this part of Europe called
“Sojaprotein” from Becej in Vojvodina. The local company “Victoria Group,” one of the leading
company in agriculture production and processing in Serbia, owns “Sojaprotein.” Prior to adopting the
2009 Law on Biotechnology, GMO soybean meal was the only GMO product allowed for import to
Serbia. However, every shipment was required to obtain approval from the Ministry of Agriculture
through a very complicated procedure.
Only non-GMO soybeans are allowed to be grown in Serbia. Area planted to non-GMO soybeans has
been growing steadily from 2001 to 2012, mainly because of the increased demand for soybean meal for
animal feed. Since 2005, Serbian phytosanitary inspection services started to inspect and to restrict
illegal planting of GMO soybeans. The amount of illegally planted GMO soybeans that was confiscated
in the past was crushed under State control and allowed to be used for animal feed or for export.
Area planted to non-GMO soybeans in MY 2011/12 was 165,000 HA. With average yield of 2.7
MT/HA, total production of soybeans in MY 2011/12 was 440,000 MT. It is estimated that in MY
2011/12 Serbia can produce 395,000 MT of non-GMO soybean meal. Due to a ban on imports of RR
soybean meal, in MY 2011/12 Serbia imported only 15,000 MT of non-GMO soybean meal. Area
planted to non-GMO soybeans for MY 2012/13 was 160,000 HA, or about 3 percent less than the
previous year. It is estimated that soybean production in MY 2012/13 can reach 480,000 MT.
Consumption of soybean meal in Serbia is estimated at around 300,000-350,000 MT. Since 2009,
Serbia increased production of soybeans and soybean meal and decreased consumption, due to the
reduced cattle number, and is mostly self-sufficient, unlikely previous years when deficit of around
100,000-120,000 MT was covered by imports (mostly from Brazil and Argentina). Current market
price of soybean meal at Novi Sad Commodity Exchange is 52-53 din/kg (560-575 USD/MT).
Monopoly of soybean meal supply puts Serbian farmers and cattle producers in a very bad situation.
Because of the high price of inputs for cattle feed, Serbian cattle production has been reduced for the
last couple of years. Price of meat cannot follow price of inputs, due to the limited incomes of the local
population causing meat demand to be very low.
For every shipment of soybeans and soybean meal at the border, phytosanitary inspectors are instructed
to carry our surveillance of possible unauthorized imports of biotech crops or products, while the
internal inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture control what is planted on the field in Serbia. The
phytosanitary inspectors use test strips “Reveal for CP4” on testing for RR soybeans presence, or apply
herbicides on small areas of the soya fields to identify illegal GMO soybean planting. The Ministry of
Agriculture works with four accredited laboratories for GMO testing:
1. SP Laboratory (member of “Victoria Group”)
Address: Industrijska Zona bb, Becej
Phone: +381 21 453 191
Web page: www.victoriagroup.rs
2. Laboratory for Seed Tasting (part of Institute for Crops and Vegetables Novi Sad)
Address: 30 Maksima Gorkog, Novi Sad
Phone: +381 21 421 248
Web page: www.nsseme.com
3. A Bio Tech Lab,
Address: Vojvode Putnika bb, Sremska Kamenica
Phone: + 381 21 489 3661
Web page: www.abiotechlab.com
4. Institute for Molecular Genetics and Genetics Engineering
Address: Vojvode Stepe 444a, Belgrade
Phone: +381 11 3975 744
Fax: + 381 11 3975808
Web page: http://www.imgge.bg.ac.rs
All four laboratories are accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Serbia and they are
following the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) proficiency testing on GMO. Laboratory
accreditation insures that the laboratory follows seed testing according to the requirements of the ISTA
In 2001, the U.S. company Monsanto obtained its first approval for contained use of Roundup Ready
herbicide corn (NK603) from the Ministry of Agriculture for a period of four years. Field trials of the
RR corn took place in two research institutes, the Maize Institute Zemun Polje and the Institute for
Vegetables and Crops in Novi Sad. From 2006 to 2009, Monsanto was granted an approval to continue
its RR corn field trials, but from 2009 Monsanto did not require for any new approvals for RR corn field
trials since it decided to put RR cornfield trails in Serbia on hold for the time being. Therefore,
currently there is no foreign company in Serbia engaged in biotech experimental research.
Section III. Plant Biotechnology Policy:
The Serbian Parliament adopted the Law on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in May 2009.
Law was published in the Official Gazette No.41/2009 and became effective from June 12, 2009. This
law completely bans all trade and commercial cultivation of biotech products or trade with biotech
products and products delivered from biotechnology and regulates basic conditions for the use GMOs in
closed systems and deliberate release into the environment.
The current law regulates only conditions for the contained use, research activities, and field trials of
biotech products under the strict control of the State. There is a strict and detailed application process
for obtaining a permit for GMO research. The application must provide all the necessary data on the
particular biotech event or biotech crop and stipulate parameters for safety procedures and measures.
All applications must be submitted to the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture for review and approval.
Risk assessments are evaluated by the Biosafety Expert Council, which is composed by representatives
of scientific research institutions in the fields of agriculture, ecological, and biological science.
Since June 2009, Serbia is following the EU‟s lead in most of the biotech issues. The Serbian
Government received negative comments on the new law from the European Union, since the law is not
in accordance with EU Directives and it does not include any regulations concerning trade, transport,
marketing, packaging, traceability, and labeling of GMO products. If the new amended GMO Law is
adopted followed by other by-laws, it will be fully in accordance with EU Directives on biotechnology
2001/18/EC No.1829/2003, 1830/2003, 65/2004, and 641/2004.
Four by-laws (Rulebooks) that were adopted in 2002 are still in effect (of which number 3 and 4 are not
in use with the current law, but will be once the law gets amended).
Rulebooks that are still valid are:
1. Rulebook on “Contained use of genetically modified organisms”, No.1244/1 issued November
1. Rulebook on “Regulation on the content and data of products derived from GMOs”, No. 1669/1
issued December 15, 2002 (will be amended with new terminology after adoption of the
amendments to the current GMO Law);
1. Rulebook on “Commercial release of „GMOs‟ or products derived from same”, No.1245/1
issued November 13, 2002 (not used due to the new Law on GMO);
1. Rulebook on “Deliberate release of biotech products into the environment”,
No.1246/1 issued November 13, 2002 (will be amended with the new terminology after
adoption of the amendments to the current GMO Law).
Following the adoption of the current Serbian GMO law, the Ministry of Agriculture is planning to
implement regulations in the new rulebooks. Amended Law on GMOs will represent general
framework on biotechnology that will be fully harmonized with EU regulations on biotechnology, while
all specifics will be regulated by additional eight by-laws that Serbia is planning to adopt, in addition to
already existing four by-laws.
List of additional by-laws that Serbia will need to adopt after changing current GMO Law in order to
harmonize its legislation on biotechnology with EU Directives:
• Regulation on the use of GMOs in closed systems (Directive 2009/41/EC);
• Regulation on deliberate release of GMOs into the environment (Directive 2001/18);
• Regulation on the placing on the market of GMOs and products of GMOs (Directive 2001/18,
Regulation 1829/2003, Regulation 1830/2003, Regulation 641/2004, and Regulation 1946/2003);
• Regulation on labeling and traceability of GMOs and products of GMOs (Regulation
1830/2003 and Regulation65/2004);
• Regulation on the content and data of the Register of GMOs and products of GMOs;
• Regulation of the authorized laboratories (Commission Recommendation 2004/787/EC),
• Regulation of confidential information;
• Regulations for the handling, packaging and transport of GMOs and GMO products.
Current GMO Law regulates the work of the Biosafety Expert Council (before known as National
Biosafety Committee) and the network of National Laboratories responsible for analysis of biotech
events and defines the role of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). Serbia is a party to the
Convention on Biological Diversity, ratified in 2002, and has accepted the Cartagena Protocol on
Biosafety since 2006. According to Serbia‟s obligations under the protocol, it must create a Biosafety
Clearing House (BCH) consisting of a national database keeping record of all biotech trials, production,
and trade activities of GMOs in the country.
Serbia is currently a member of the CODEX Alimentarius, the European Plant Protection Organization
(EPPO), the Convention of Biodiversity (CBD), the International Union for the Protection of the new
Varieties of Plants (UPOV), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the European
Cooperative Program for Crop Genetic Resources Networks (ECP/GR), and is a signatory of the Aarhus
Convention and the International Plant Protection Convention.
The Ministry for Agriculture, Trade, Forestry, and Water Management is the competent authority
responsible for all GMOs issues in Serbia. The Ministry deals with all contained use of GMOs and is
the focal point for Cartagena Protocol, Biosafety Clearing House, plant varieties registration and
protection, genetic resources, and accreditation of laboratories. The Agricultural Ministry is also
responsible for appointing members of the Biosafety Expert Council.
Contact information for GMOs issues at the Ministry of Agriculture is:
Mrs. Vanja Kojic
Address: 1, Omladinskih Brigade Street
Phone: + 381 11 311 75 91
Fax: + 381 11 311 70 94
The Ministry of Agriculture supervises the application of the GMO law and its subsequent regulations
through a system of Republic Inspectors. It manages all phytosanitary inspectorates and quality control
of food and feed production. It is also responsible for financing research projects in the fields of
agriculture and protection of genetic resources.
Section IV. Plant Biotechnology Marketing Issues:
Marketing or promoting GMO food does not exist in Serbia. There is a strong negative public attitude
towards the acceptance of biotech crops or products derived from GMOs. With the adoption of GMO
Law in 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture in Serbia openly expressed its attitude against GMOs.
Consumer awareness of GMOs and public discussions of biotechnology related issues are very limited.
During the past three years, Serbian officials continued to strongly promote a campaign in the Serbian
Province of Vojvodina, for the creation of this region known as the Serbian “bread-basket” as a GMO-
free region. The government is also encouraging a GMO-free Serbian agriculture and has a strict
control over GMOs production, reaching some of the potential EU markets for non-GMO and organic
products. Because of this campaign and strong support to domestic soybean crushing capacities dealing
only with non-GMO soybeans, the Ministry of Agriculture decided to adopt the 2009 GMO Law to ban
any growing or trading of GMOs.
Concerning marketing of non-GMOs, the Ministry of Agriculture is supporting local soybean producers
and soybean crushing plants to promote Serbia as a non-biotech soybean producer and supports the
notion that Serbian producers can realize higher profits through marketing non-biotech crops. Several
Serbian crushing plants have long-term contracts with EU buyers to export non-GMO soybean meal and
products. For MY12/13, Serbian soybean producers are receiving government production subsidies of
3,000 dinars/MT (33 USD/MT).
Section V. Plant Biotechnology Capacity Building and Outreach:
USDA has been assisting Serbia to develop its capacities in the research and regulations of agricultural
biotechnology since 2001. Through numerous seminars, workshops, and field visits (in the U.S. and
Serbia) OCBD experts have trained participants to critically examine technical and economic aspects of
biotechnology policies and pursue strategies to optimize their implementation. USDA biotech activities
include the assistance to Serbian scientists in designing and conducting field trials of genetically
modified crops, and utilizing molecular genetics for food safety assessments.
For several years, the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) has provided extensive technical
assistance to the Government of Serbia on biotech issues, resulting in a draft law on biotech agricultural
products that complies with WTO principles. The draft law, however, has remained bottled up within
the Ministry of Agriculture.
Possible future activities
Through State Department “Biotech Outreach Strategy” program in 2012, FAS Belgrade is planning to
organize a visit of biotech speaker to Serbia. Through this program, a biotech speaker will demonstrate
the benefits of biotech agricultural products and practices to select audiences within the agricultural
sector, and will improve understanding of biotech agricultural issues among Serbian policy makers and
Section VI. Animal Biotechnology:
Genetic engineering and/or cloning are not used in Serbia for the development of animal biotechnology.
Serbia does not have in place any legislation related to the development, commercial use, and/or import
of these animals or products.
Section VII. Author Defined:
REFERENCES AND RELATED NATIONAL WEB LINKS
The full text of the current Serbian Law on GMO is attached. The full text of four existing by-laws is
also available at the FAS Office Belgrade, Serbia: Phone: + 381 11 306 4802; Fax: + 381 11 306 4922,
E-mail: AgBelgrade@fas.usda.gov .
Ministry for Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management
Ministry for Science and Technological Development
Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning
Serbian Environmental Protection Agency
Ministry for Health
Institute for Field and Vegetable Crops, Novi Sad
Maize Research Institute, Zemun Polje
Institute for Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering
Institute for Biological Research”Siniša Stanković“
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad
Faculty of Biology, Belgrade University
Faculty of Agriculture, Belgrade University
Fruit Research Institute Čačak