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Russia: Ban Introduced on Use of GMOs in Food

(Oct. 6, 2015) On September 18, 2015, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Arkadii Dvorkovich, said at a business forum that Russia will not produce genetically modified food but that research on genetic modifications for medical and other purposes will continue. (Government Decided to Leave Russia Without Genetically Modified Products, NEWSRU.COM (Sept. 18, 2015) (in Russian).) The Newsru news agency has cited Dvorkovich as saying that the “[d]ecision has been made, and we will not produce food that uses genetically modified organisms.” (Id.) He had made similar statements earlier, saying that “Russian food will be one of the cleanest in the world from the technological point of view.” (Id.)

Previously, Russian farmers were allowed to use genetically engineered seeds if the seeds were properly registered. New rules for registration of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and products produced with the use of GMOs were approved by the Russian Cabinet of Ministers in 2013. (Government Regulation No. 839 of September 23, 2013, on State Registration of Genetically Engineered and Modified Organisms and Products Produced with the Use of Such Organisms, ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA [official publication] (Sept. 27, 2013) (in Russian).) Subsequently, however, the implementation of this regulation was postponed until July 2017. (Government Decided to Leave Russia Without Genetically Modified Products, supra.)

In February 2015, the Russian Federation Government introduced in the legislature legislation aimed at further strengthening government control in the field of genetic engineering and extending the rights of government authorities to ban imports of products containing GMOs. (Federal Law on Amending Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation in Regard to Improvement of State Regulation of Genetic Engineering Activities, Bill No. 714809-6, art. 1, Russian State Duma legislative database (in Russian).) The draft law prohibits the use and growth of genetically modified seeds, plants, and animals in Russia for any reason, except in cases when done for the purposes of scientific research, and provides for recognition of the unauthorized use of GMOs as a misdemeanor. (Id., arts. 3 & 4.) The legislation was approved on its first plenary reading in April 2015 and is undergoing revisions before the second reading. (Id.)