The Russian cabinet has approved the bill introducing heavy fines for businessmen who violate the rules on obligatory marking of foodstuffs containing genetically-modified products.
The bill has been drafted by the state consumer rights agency Rospotrebnadzor and concerns all food and beverage products containing genetically-modified organisms or their parts, or which are made using such organisms. Entrepreneurs who fail to put markings on the products they sell or distort the information will be fined between 20,000 and 150,000 rubles (US$555 - $4150). Control bodies can also confiscate the improperly marked stock.
The current Russian law orders clearly visible indication on all goods that contain 0.9 percent of genetically-modified organisms by weight. There are no limitations on the turnover or production of GMO-containing foodstuffs.
Russian legislators and officials from the Agriculture Ministry have previously complained that the regulations concerning the turnover of GMO products lacked proper enforcement and suggested a temporary ban on all genetically-altered products in the country.
Other government agencies, including Rospotrebnadzor argued that since Russia joined the WTO in 2012, trade restrictions can be imposed only after the hazardous effects of the banned goods are scientifically proven. They also quoted the statistics reading that the share of GMO in Russian food industry had declined from 12 percent to just 0.01 percent over the past 10 years and currently there are just 57 registered food products containing GMO in the country.
Nevertheless, most of the Russian lawmakers are pushing for changing the existing law On Safety and Quality of Alimentary Products by introducing a norm set for the maximum allowed content of transgenic and genetically modified components. The motion’s initiators want to make this norm zero for all foodstuffs produced in Russia.
In February this year, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev held a government session dedicated to the problem in which he said that Russia will create its own research base for genetically-modified organisms that would provide the authorities with expert information and allow for further legislative movements and executive decisions.
Medvedev also warned against perceiving the GMO products as “absolute evil,” but noted that the government did not support their use in the food industry.