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