More than 100 of the 110 municipalities (novads) of Latvia have decided that their land will be GMO-free by the end of 2012.
Cultivation of GM crops will be prohibited on municipal land, according to Eric Leitis, senior consultant of the protection of species and habitats at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia.
The 101 novads have adopted mandatory rules on the cultivation of genetically modified plants on their territory, including the five districts that already made this policy-move last year.
Leitis noted that the relatively low activity in enforcing prohibition of GMO cultivation during 2011 has been due to the fact that most of the municipalities already had such rules in place.
According to experts Latvia may completely ban cultivation of GMO products nationally before the end of 2012.
Leitis added that, when compared to the EU, Latvia has a good track record with GMOs, because cultivation of genetically modified plants has been banned nearly in 90% of the country.
The move to prohibition GMO crop cultivation in Latvia began in July 2009 when the amendments to the Act on the turnover of GMO came into force. These amendments gave local governments the power to invoke bans on the basis of local referendum.
And despite the fact that the authorities of remaining nine municipalities stated that they would not ban GMO products in the near future, this decision may soon change, as Latvia is now actively seeking to become a GMO-free nation. The municipal authorities are facing strong pressure from the public opinion. (Vladislav Vorotnikov)