Slovakia maintains a scientific approach towards biotechnology. No major policy or legislative changes are foreseen.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
GAIN Report Number: LO1202
Agricultural Biotechnology Annual
Biotechnology - GE Plants and Animals
Biotechnology and Other New Production
Michael Henney, Agricultural Attaché
Jana Mikulasova, Agricultural Specialist
Slovakia maintains a scientific approach towards biotechnology. No major policy or legislative
changes are foreseen.
Slovakia is one of few European countries open towards Biotechnology. Genetically engineered plants
are generally considered to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability. The Slovak Ministry of
Agriculture strictly regulates the use of biotechnology; nonetheless its scientific approach has supported
the use of BT corn for biogas production and animal feed. Slovakia has been one of a few EU member
states to allow and to conduct field trials of various bioengineered events. Also a recently ran survey on
public awareness on matters relating to the safe transport and use of living genetically modified
organisms will provide information on the use of biotechnology and options for the future in both
production and marketing.
Biotechnology Trade and Production:
Slovakia, as well as the Czech Republic, remains one of a few EU member states with a science-based
approach to biotechnology. Slovak farmers have been growing BT corn MON810 since 2006. They
use it mainly for biogas production and for on-farm cattle feed, eliminating the need for commercial
marketing of the product.
Acreage of GE Crops in Slovakia
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
MON 810 0 0 0 30 930 1,930 875 1,249 760 378
I. Crops under Development
There are currently no bioengineered crops under development in Slovakia.
Slovakia imports bioengineered soybean meal, a main protein source for feed mixes. The majority of
imports are trans-shipped through main European ports. In 2011, Slovakia imported 112,000 MT of
III. Food Aid
Slovakia, not being a food aid recipient, consequently faces no issues related to biotechnology that
would impede the importation of food aid donations.
I. Responsible Government Ministries
The Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic (MoE) is the national competent authority for the
implementation of the GMO Act. MoE issues permits for contained use of GMOs, and permits for the
release of GMOs into the environment for trial purposes. MoE receives applications for placing on the
market, which are then reviewed and approved or rejected in collaboration with other EU member states
and institutions of the European Union.
The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and MoE both provide scientific advice in support of sound
decision-making processes regarding adoption and cultivation of GMOs:
MoE established the Biosafety Committee and its Panel of Experts on the basis of the Act
No.151/2002 Coll., art. 27. The Committee is formed by eleven permanent members and fifteen
experts. Administration of the Committee is under the MoE’s Department of Biosafety. The
Committee produces recommendations on request for MoE. The recommendations are made
based on its members’ specific areas of expertise. The relevant documents and results of
Committee activities are published on the MoE website.
MoA, through its Department for Food Safety and Nutrition (DFSN), established the National
Advisory Experts Group in the field of GMOs and New Foodstuffs. The Group is composed of
43 experts from a wide range of disciplines relevant to the field of GM food safety and is
cooperating internationally. Administration of the group is carried out by DFSN. Members of
the expert group communicate regularly with each other and with others in their field of specific
II. Other relevant ministries and organizations for biosafety in Slovakia include:
The Ministry of Health (MoH): is the competent authority for medicines produced from GMOs
and for using GMOs in the area of public feeding. MoH is represented on MoE’s Biosafety
committee. It is an official partner to DG SANCO (Directorate General for Health and
Consumer Affairs) of the European Commission. It is the competent authority to the Biological
and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC, 1972)
The Ministry of Education (MoEd): is the umbrella organization for education, research and
science, including the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
The Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS): is the main participant for research in biosafety.
The Ministry of Economy (MoEc): is the competent authority for biotechnologies use, as well as
the import and export of products and production of bio-fuels.
The Slovak Environment Inspection (SEI), Department of Biosafety: is the inspection body that
controls compliance with the Act and Decree on the use of genetic techniques and genetically
modified organisms, laid down in legal regulations and duties resulting from the decisions
issued by the Ministry of Environment. For analytical services, SEI collaborates with the
Institute of Molecular Biology SAS, which serves as a reference laboratory for MoE and SEI.
The State Veterinary and Food Administration (SVFA): executes, among other things, the
control of import, production, manipulation, handling, and marketing of genetically modified
food and feed.
The Central Control and Testing Institute of Agriculture (CCTIA): is responsible, among other
things, for the control of manipulation with the genetically modified seeds and their planting.
The last two mentioned authorities have DNA laboratories serving as reference laboratories for
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) contact point: The European Food Safety Authority
(hereinafter EFSA) has been established in accordance with the Regulation (EC) of the
European Parliament and Council No. 178/2002/EC laying down the general principles and
requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority, and laying down
procedures in matters of food safety. The main activity of EFSA is to deal with scientific risk
assessment and risk communication. Under this Regulation, member states are required to
cooperate with EFSA.
In Slovakia the national competent authority for cooperation with the EFSA is the Ministry of
Agriculture, according to the Act No. 152/1995 Coll. as amended. Annex 5 gives further details
about the functioning of the EFSA focal point.
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention of Biological Diversity national contacts:
Slovakia was the presidency country of the 4th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity during the time when in Cartagena, Vienna and Montreal the text of the
Cartagena Protocol was negotiated and finally adopted. As a Party to the Protocol, the necessary
duties are fulfilled consistently in Slovakia: The Government established a National Focal Point
to the Protocol and a National Contact Point for trans-boundary movement of Living Modified
Organisms (LMOs) information in the Department of Biosafety of MoE, a fully interoperable
biosafety clearinghouse (BCH) website along with the nomination of National BCH focal point.
The Act No. 151/2002 Coll., article 24, establishes the competencies of MoE to the Cartagena
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and national contacts to Codex Alimentarius: The competent
authority of the Slovak Republic for cooperation with FAO is the Ministry of Agriculture
together with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic.
Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary measures (SPS): The Central Control and Testing Institute for
Agriculture is the contact institute for SPS matters in Slovakia.
World Organization for Animal Health (OIE): The Director of the State Veterinary and Food
Authority of the Slovak republic regularly attend the meetings of OIE. Animal health is the
matter of the Act on Veterinary Care No. 39/2007 Coll. as amended by act No. 99/2008 Coll.
III. Biotech Policy
Slovak policy on biotechnology is rational and science based, applying a case-by-case approval
principle. The Slovak positions for negotiations on approvals of GM products in the EU are prepared
by MoE in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Slovak Republic (MoA), which is the
competent authority for food and feed made from GMOs and for cultivation of GM agricultural plants,
placed on the EU market.
The MoE issues permits for contained use of GMOs in Risk Classes 2 – 4 and receives the notifications
of the gene technologies or GMOs using in the Risk Class 1 that can be submitted after use has started.
The MoE can ask the Slovak Biosafety Committee for an expert opinion on a particular notification.
Dealing with applications for the Risk Classes 2 to 4, the MoE always asks an expert statement, which
is then discussed at the Slovak Biosafety Committee meeting prior to issuing the permit. The
regulations for GMOs in Slovakia are based on the EU regulatory framework. The national legislation
has been harmonized.
IV. Approved Biotech Crops, Food and Feed
For information regarding bioengineered crops approved for cultivation, food or feed use, please refer
to EU-27 2012 Biotechnology Annual Report.
V. Field Trials
Slovakia has been one of a few EU member states to allow and to conduct field trials of various
bioengineered events. Deliberate release for field testing in Slovakia was authorized for several events
of corn with various modifications including pest and herbicide resistance and changed nutritional
characteristics (increased content of mannose), and for sugar beet tolerant to herbicide products
The rules for coexistence in Slovakia are laid down in the act No. 184/2006 Coll. that sets the obligation
to the farmers to announce to other farmers within the radius of minimal isolation distance of his intent
to cultivate genetically modified plants. The Decree No. 69/2007 sets the isolation distances as follows:
Crop / Distance in meters Corn Rapeseed Sugar Beets Potatoes
Conventional Agriculture 200 400 50 20
Organic Agriculture 300 600 50 20
A two meters isolation distance must be replaced by a buffer zone consisting of one row of corn (for
corn) or by one meter of sugar beets (for sugar beets).
Packaged foods and feeds derived and/or containing biotechnology enhanced ingredients must be
labeled. “Contains GMOs” is a typical example of a product label statement found on the Slovak
market. Labeling is enforced by local authorities and follows EU labeling standards. For more
information on EU biotechnology labeling requirements see the EU-27 2012 Biotechnology Annual
VIII. Market acceptance
Farmers are facing difficulties with regards to the marketing of BT corn therefore the primarily use for
this crop is on-farm as a livestock feed or for Biogas production. However some retail buyers of meat
and milk products are requiring farmers to guarantee that their livestock are not fed with GMOs.
IX. County specific studies
While conducting this report, the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic is running a survey
of public awareness on matters relating to the safe transport and use of living genetically modified
organisms in the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The goal of this survey is to assess
public knowledge and awareness of biotechnology. The questionnaire has been prepared in accordance
with the operational objective 2.1 of the work program for the period 2011-2015 in awareness,
education and public participation, adopted by the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in the
decision BS-V/13. It is expected that the results of this survey will give a better understanding of public
awareness on biotechnology and will provide information on the use of biotechnology and options for
both future production and marketing.
The European Commission document released in April 2011 on the Socio-economic implications of
GMO cultivation shows Slovak contribution only for the “General Comments” section as follows:
The exercise of data collection is considered important by the authorities.
Difficulties to answer due to the limited experience of Slovakia with GMO cultivation.
No study on socio-economic impact has been performed so far. However, two impacting
elements could already be identified:
Obligation for labeling generates more expenses for each product produced from GMOs,
and the consumers will not buy the product.
Some processing companies have very low adventitious presence thresholds (0.02%), so
conventional producers near to GMOs fields have problems to sell.
Further information on Slovak perception of biotechnology and GMOs can be found in the EU-wide
survey “Special Euro barometer 341/ Wave 73.1 - TNS Opinion & Social: Biotechnology Report 2010.”
For more details please review the survey linked here.
XI. Capacity Building and Outreach:
The FAS outreach strategy in Slovakia remains supporting the rational approach towards
biotechnologies by providing unbiased and science based information to the decision makers.
Genetically engineered animals are regulated in the same way as any other genetically engineered
organisms in Slovakia. The main legislative act for that area is the Act No. 151/2002 Coll. on the Use
of Genetic Technologies and Genetically Modified Organisms that came into force from April 1, 2002.
The Act was amended by the Acts No. 587/2004 Coll., No. 77/2005 Coll., No. 100/2008 Coll., and Act
no. 117/2010 Coll. The use of genetically engineered animals in food and feed is regulated by different
legislative acts – for food it is a part of the Food Codex dedicated to novel foods, the feed area falls
under responsibilities of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Projects using GE animals that have been authorized in Slovakia so far fall under the scope of contained
use. No commercial applications approved for GE animals for food or feed use, and no notification of
the use of GE animals for food use or other agricultural use has been filed with the EU. Some GE
animals or products are used for limited medical and pharmaceutical research purposes, most of them
are transgenic rodents.
Other Relevant Information:
For further information about the situation and regulatory framework for biotechnology in the EU
please see a website dedicated to biotechnologies by the Foreign Agricultural Service U.S. Mission to
the European Union based in Brussels or search the FAS reports.
For information on GMOs and biotechnology pertaining to Slovakia please refer to a website provided
by the Biosafety Department of the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic. Information from
this website is used for this report.