GMO research in Bulgaria: before and after the enforcement of the GMO law
Abstract: Research on, development, and commercialization of crops derived trough biotechnology is strongly affected by regulatory frameworks, especially in the countries within EU. While there are common rules for the GMO regulation set by the EU, each country seemed to have a unique approach to this matter often implying restrictive laws that contradict the common EU policy. In this paper the influence of the regulatory framework on the plant biotechnology research in Bulgaria is discussed through a review of the past and current developments in one of the leading plant biotech research institutions in the country – Agrobioinstitute (ABI). ABI started its existence in the mid 1980s and it had its rise in the 1990s performing cutting age plant biotech research funded by the government and by cooperations with private companies. In that time the development of protocols for genetic transformation of many plant species was carried out and new traits such as insect and diseases resistance and cold tolerance were introduced in plant species such as tobacco, tomato and potato. The developed GM plants were assessed for their efficiency and possible impacts on the environment in numerous laboratory and field trials. In the first decade of the new century, however, with the enforcement of the GMO legislation, restrictive rules hampered the GMO research workflow in the country. The key aspects of this legislation specific for Bulgaria, which have the most significant impact on GMO research and commercialisation, are discussed.