Russia continues to tighten GMO legislation

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

A complete ban on the cultivation and production of grain and livestock containing GMO has been considered
A complete ban on the cultivation and production of grain and livestock containing GMO has been considered

Related tags: Genetically modified organism, Agriculture, Russia, Livestock

Russia has seen a number of further restrictions on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO), as the State Duma has started to consider a new bill, which could add a number of amendments to the relevant legislation.

One such measure could be a ban on meat and dairy products of animals fed with the use of GMO. However, the state is still reluctant to resort to this, due to a shortage of scientific monitoring of GMO in the market.

In November 2014, Anna Popova, head of Russian State Sanitary Service Rospotrebnadzor, said Russia may prohibit the sale of all products containing GMO. "We have completely excluded the possibility of any [legal] cultivation and production of GMO in Russia. In the near future, we may ban it completely from the market. This issue is currently under discussion,"​ she stated.

At present, feeding animals with any GM components is officially banned in Russia, although, according to several marketing reports, many manufacturers ignore this requirement. The problem of GMO continues to attract a lot of attention from the Russian authorities and, since February, the State Duma has been considering a bill on a complete ban on the cultivation and production of grain and livestock containing GMO.

Meanwhile, State Duma deputy Irina Yarovaya, who is considered one of the main opponents of GMOs in Russia, has recently proposed revising the draft bill, potentially introducing criminal liability for people illegally engaged in the cultivation and use of GMO products, as well as increasing the number of inspections in companies that could produce or use GMO.

"If it [the bill] provides that only pre-notified inspections are conducted once every three years, with no unscheduled inspections, then this will not solve anything. It means there will be no control in this area,"​ she stated.

Recent public polls have shown that the problem is concerning not only the authorities, but also ordinary citizens. A study by The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center, published in 2014, reported that every second Russian (54%) admitted he or she would not buy products that contained GMO, while the figure was even higher (79%) among residents in the major cities.

Also, more than a third of citizens (34%) believed that various types of meat products on the country’s grocery shelves contained GMO. More than 70% of all respondents confidently said this was only the case for imported meat and sausage products, while 10% of respondents suggested that domestic food might also contain GM components.

"Meanwhile, Russia has not yet created a system that would allow effective monitoring of the presence of GMO in the country’s meat and milk market. This system would not only require significant investment, but also the use of several innovations that Russian veterinary authorities do not yet have at their disposal. However, if, in the next few years, there continues to be a focus on this problem, then it is possible that the relevant systems will be developed and implemented,"​ said Russian agricultural analyst Eugene Gerden.

Related topics: Meat

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