Public debates / Stakeholder activities

Public debate and stakeholder opinions

Co-existence has not been a topic of debate in Russia, therefore public statements on this issue have been rare. Even discussion on genetically modified organisms is limited to a handful of stakeholders.

Positions on co-existence

Government

Russia’s attitude toward agricultural biotechnology remains practically unchanged from the previous year. Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned biotechnology several times as an important direction for future development of Russian science, but the attitude of Russian officials, including the Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Education and Science, toward agricultural biotechnology and the use of biotech crops for human consumption, remains very cautious. This attitude is one of the reasons why agricultural biotechnology is not among the priorities in research or legislation.

Political parties

On the matter of GMOs – and subsequently on co-existence – politicians are split with no clear battle lines. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are having a strong influence on politicians resulting in such events as the Mayor of Moscow declaring the city GM free. Generally it appears that Russia will adopt an EU approach to co-existence and is moving in that direction.

Farmers

Organic farmers have little voice in Russia but organic agriculture is being pushed hard by NGOs. Most  farmers are generally keen on having GMOs if they provide good financial returns.

Food and feed industry

The food and feed industries have a relaxed position on GMOs. As long as there is no intense protest from consumers against GMOs, they are not particularly concerned.

Consumers

The general awareness for GMOs remains low, and generally  there is little public concern.  The level of debate is poor and ill informed.

NGOs

NGOs are making more impact at both the general public and political level. Opposition to agricultural biotechnology development in Russia is driven by the concept that biotech crops have unknown origins and pose unpredictable danger to human health, animals, and the environment. This concept is widely supported by Greenpeace Russia.

Consultation activities

There has been some limited debate on GM food, but there have not yet been discussions on co-existence between the government and various stakeholders.

Initiatives against GMOs

Opposition to genetically modified organisms is coming from two directions in Russia: NGOs and groups of “concerned” scientists. Some scientists see the NGOs as providing useful sources of funding for research as the Government continues to severely limit funding for agricultural and biotechnology research . Thus some scientists are taking a very sceptical view of GMOs in order to attract funds.




Regional Co-extra reporter /rapporteur:

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