Greenpeace denounces Russian GM users

Related tags Gm ingredients Russia Gm

Greenpeace Russia has published a list of companies it claims are
using genetically modified (GM) ingredients in foods produced and
sold in Russia, but a lack of funds means that it may not be able
to achieve its goal of spreading the word to as many Russian
consumers as possible, writes Angela Drujinina.

Greenpeace's guide, compiled in association with the Russian Confederation of Consumers' Associations, was printed for the first time in 2004, but the current edition bears little resemblance to last year. The 2005 version is far more comprehensive, covering a much larger number of companies, and has seen a number of companies improve their positions compared to the previous year.

The reference book is divided into three sections - red, orange and green. The red list consists of 488 companies which Greenpeace claims knowingly use GM ingredients in their products, while the orange last covers companies which unwittingly use GM products. The green list, of 450 companies, covers those firms which guarantee that their products are GM-free.

Meat processors in particular have improved their standings since last year, with processors from Dzerjinsk, Diveevsk, Czerepovetsk, Socinsk, Permisk, Krymsk and Ufa all reacting to the 2004 listing and moving from the red list to the green list.

Yet there are question marks over the accuracy of the listing, with Greenpeace admitting that it had verified the claims of only a fifth of the companies in the book. "We can only carry out selective tests, it is impossible to cover every company,"​ said Greenpeace's GM spokesman for Russia, Evgheny Usov.

"That job in fact belongs to the national food safety inspectors, who are paid to check whether companies are using GM products or not. The reality is, though, that most are content to check whether companies are labelling the presence of GM ingredients or not, which means that many GM ingredients could be undetected."

Money - or the lack of it - is a constant problem for Russia's food safety inspectors, but Greenpeace has its own financial problems as well. Insufficient funds meant that the organisation was able to print just 20,000 copies of its GM reference book, just enough to cover the requirements of Greenpeace's own regional members. Consumers are being urged to visit the organisation's Russian website​ to check out the list in its entirety.

Russian food scientists are broadly opposed to the proliferation of GM ingredients, but with a large number of agricultural and food imports coming from the US - a major producer of GM products - it is becoming increasingly hard for Russian consumers to make a choice.

Among the companies cited as using GM ingredients in products on sale in Russia were the US firms Kellogg, Hershey, Mars, Heinz, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble.

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