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Food fight: Russia responds to EU and US sanctions with food import bans

By Nathan Gray+

04-Aug-2014

Russia has imposed bans on certain food products from the EU, United States and Ukraine.
Russia has imposed bans on certain food products from the EU, United States and Ukraine.

Russia has responded to increased sanctions from the EU and US with by prohibiting certain foods entering the country, including bans on fruit and vegetables from Poland and poultry and dairy products from the US and Ukraine.

Russian state food safety epidemiologists, along with Rosselkhoznadzor, Moscow's agricultural watchdog, has announced it has found high levels of antibiotics in US poultry, along with bacteria, contaminants in dairy products from Ukraine and pests in produce coming from Europe.

The Russian agricultural and consumer watchdog agencies have announced the discovery of harmful levels of antibiotics in US poultry, contaminants in Ukrainian dairy, pests in European produce and bacteria in US-sourced fast food. As a result, they have either imposed or threatened blanket bans on the products in question in response to the reported 'violations.'

Food fight as a response?

Experts have suggested that it is more than a coincidence that the banned products are from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia in recent months as a result of the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine. 

According to the Washington Post, experts say the bans are 'highly politicised gestures in classic Russian diplomatic style.' Indeed, suggestions are that because measures which restrict guns, oil exploration and banks may be too costly for its domestic economy, Russia has decided to respond to sanctions with a food fight - and banned the import of fruit, cheese and fast food.

“There is always a regulatory agency, environmental agency, or something ready to act,” Professor Konstantin Sonin from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics told the Washington Post - explaining that the tactics are common in Russia.

Indeed, as evidence of the link to sanctions, Sonin pointed to the newspaper pages and airtime that has been devoted to publicising the recent food bans in Russian state-run media.

“You can tell by the way it was reported,” he said. “It would not be such a very big thing if this was a local issue.”

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