The European Court of Justice ruled on 25 July that organisms obtained through new mutagenic techniques should be regarded as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and therefore fall within the framework of European Union legislation on GMOs. Judges stated that although GMOs do not refer to certain techniques, like “those which have been used in a conventional way in different applications and have proven safety”, can also be covered by the decision.

According to Brussels requirements, food products must be labelled as GMOs, but only if they exceed 0.9 per cent of this content. This almost 1 percentage is not harmful to Europeans. For reference, there are more than 17 product groups in China which are necessarily labelled as being GMOs, regardless of quantity. By November 2015, individual Member States could not individually prohibit the import and sale of the GMO food and feed authorised by the EU on their territory. Since then, two thirds of the EU Member States have received the right to proceed with the introduction of a ban on cultivation of genetically modified crops on their territory. Among them is Bulgaria.

At present, the number of GMOs products that can be sold in the EU is over 70. Globally, the crops most affected by gene modification are soya, maize, cotton, rape and sugar beet. Due to the fact that almost 90 percent of the soya plantations on the planet are with GMO soya, and the crop is the main protein that is embedded in the production of many feed, Europe imports the vast majority of GMOs into its territory precisely through animal food. About 85 per cent of the GMO crops are grown in only 4 countries in the world – the US, Brazil, Argentina and Canada.

In 2010 the EU adopted a package on GMO cultivation which includes a recommendation on the coexistence of genetically modified and genetically non-modified plants. A total of nine companies from agrobusiness and chemical industry have licenses for GMOs in the EU. These include giants such as German companies Bayer and BASF, US Monsanto and Swiss Syngenta.

Control of this type of food in Bulgaria is made by the regional health inspections, analysing between 250 – 300 samples per year. The content of the GMO in a food stuff must be marked with the twice bigger symbols if it is above the norm of 0.9 per cent. In Bulgaria, after the adopted food law in 2017, there is an explicit ban on the advertising of genetically modified food.