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Organic Consumers Association

Biggest Russian Food and Feed Importers Adopt GE Free Policy

 After three weeks of intensive campaigning against imports of genetically engineered food (GE) and feed coming into Russia, Greenpeace received an announcement from two major Russian food and feed importers that they have adopted a policy of only using non GE products.

Sodruzhestvo, the biggest soya importer in Russia, which supplies 70% of all soya used in the Russian food and feed industry, has stated that it will turn its new factory currently under construction in Kaliningrad into a GE free zone. The new oil-extraction and feed-processing plant will not only produce GE free soya oils and feeds, but also GE free maize and GE free oilseed rape products. Following the move by Sodruzhestvo the feed producer Rybflotprom, which controls 7 % of the Russian feed market and is 80 % owned by the French company Provimi, also announced it has adopted a GE free policy for all its products.

Both companies will soon start importing GE free soya from Brazil instead of GE soya from Argentina and the US.

"Greenpeace welcomes the move by the Russian companies it's a significant shift in the global market towards GE free products," said Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GE campaigner. "This is good news for Russian consumers, who reject the use of GE ingredients in their foods by an overwhelming majority of 80 %. It is yet another blow to the global genetic engineering industry - and in particular to Monsanto - the world's biggest seller of GE seeds."

The announcements were made at a press conference at the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, currently in the harbour of Kaliningrad. For the last three weeks the Arctic Sunrise was on the Baltic Sea exposing controversial imports of GE food and feed products being imported into Russia.

The decisions by Sodruzhestvo and Rybflotprom will have a strong effect on countries that export GE products such as the US and Argentina and will cause a shift in the demand to countries such as Brazil where soya and maize production is still predominantly GE free. In a written statement Sodruzhestvo director S.L. Kandybovich explicitly stated that his company will in the future mainly use imported soy from Brazil. "We think that Brazil is the only country that grows GMO-free soy, whose quality meets our criteria", his statement said.

Earlier in the year, and following a Greenpeace investigation into the impacts of the soya trade in the Brazilian Amazon rainforests, multinational soya traders in Brazil have agreed to a two year moratorium on buying soya from newly deforested land in the Amazon. Greenpeace will also ask Sodruzhestvo to support this initiative to ensure the soya produced in Brazil does not contribute to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.

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