'A Health Ministry resolution requires that not more than 5% of products should be genetically modified, but unfortunately the resolution is not being enforced,' said Chairman of the Federal Council's Agricultural and Food Politics Ivan Starikov on radio Echo Moskvy yesterday. Starikov is convinced that the use and cultivation of genetically modified products is a 'great political mistake.' 'If we remove restrictions on the import to Russia of genetically modified products then we will seriously impede the future development of our agriculture in the 21st century,' he said.
Starikov also said that over the past 5-6 years the production of ecologically sound products has begun to develop at a speed comparable to that of information technology. He said that Russia has an incontestable competitive advantage in the area - a large amount of agricultural land divided up into large plots.
He said that not long ago anti-freeze genes were discovered in fish inhabiting cold water. When these genes were transplanted to different types of tomatoes, it created a new breed of frost-resisting tomatoes. 'Fish-tomato and tomato-fish - it's the food of Frankenstein. It may be good for the producers, but it is not good for consumers. It's worse than a nightmare,' said Starikov. Furthermore, he is convinced that by violating specific differences in organisms, scientists are opening a pandora's box.
Starikov said that at the present time in Russia testing was being conducted on two types of genetically modified potatoes, which are not subject to the invasion of the Colorado beetle. 'So far we don't know what will happen to these types of potatoes when fertilization occurs. Therefore, I relate to all of these tests and experiments extremely carefully. Recently Europe changed its subsidy politics and now European farmers are paid not by the head of cattle or by the hectare of tilled land but by the quality of products, and especially for the growing of ecologically natural products. And Russia should also move in the same direction,' he said.
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