Ministers and officials from 15 EU and Western Balkans gathered for an international conference in Slovenia, where the European Union (EU) said it wants Europe free of genetically modified crops.
"Most the the EU sees its future free of GMO," Slovenian Agriculture, Forestry and Food Minister Dejan Zidan told the press at the conference on Friday on the eve of Agra, the region's biggest agriculture and food fair due to be held on Saturday.
The conference, which was organized together with Hungary, also featured Luxembourg's Fernand Etgen, the current president of the EU's Agriculture Council, and focused on a recently adopted directive which allows EU countries to limit or prohibit the growing of genetically modified plants.
Etgen said that the Luxembourg presidency would give attention to the development of agricultural products markets and their impact on food chains, especially due to the Russian embargo.
"We are well aware of what big problems this causes, especially to cattle breeders."
Asked if it is possibly to farm in the EU without genetically modified organisms, Etgen said that Luxembourg had always advocated caution regarding GMOs, that is why it had banned growing some GMOs.
The participants also discussed ways to preserve a "GMO-free model" in the EU.
"Once they form a uniform position, this will be presented to the European Council", Zidan said.
Slovenia has a firm anti-GMO stance. This position has been assumed also because it does not have vast quantities of agricultural land which would allow for buffer zones between genetically modified and conventional crops, he said.
The Slovenian minister also raised the issue of GMO labeling in manufactured products and underscored the consumers' right to know which products contain GMO.