Russians are entitled to know.....what they eat

A new campaign was launched in Russia under a slogan “NO transgenic products for Russians!”

Yesterday, Greenpeace representatives bought several items in “The Seventh Continent” grocery store for testing. The results of those tests will reveal what specific companies supply genetically modified products without proper labeling their goods. According to a decree signed by the head sanitation doctor of the Russian Federation, which concerns the government's politics of healthy eating and also the law of consumer rights, all genetically modified (GM) products have to be labeled accordingly. Russians ought to know and decide for themselves whether they wish to spend their money on unnatural goods. 

Yesterday afternoon, a paratrooper of Russian “greens” has landed right by “The Seventh Continent” grocery store on Big Georgian St. “Greenpeace” representatives spent 3898 rubles in the store while purchasing various items meant for testing. Their shopping cart was loaded with such items as sausages, pasta, ravioli, blini, cotlets, baby food, chocolate from various manufacturers.

Such visit of the Russian “greens” turned out to be quite an unpleasant surprise for the store's management. One of the store's security personnel, who carefully monitored the intruders' every move, has called the entire operation “hooliganism”. By evening, all of the products have been sent off to the Institute of Cytology located in St. Petersburg.

In his interview with Gazeta, the Institute's researcher Maxim Vonkovsky was chosen to lead a group of scientists for all the needed tests. Several days will be needed in order to complete their examinations. “We will conduct a thorough DNA analysis of all products in order to see whether either one of them contains genetically modified ingredients,” remarked the expert.

Afterwards, the results along with several samples will be sent off to undergo several additional tests at one of the Western laboratories. Last time (December, 2002) it was a German lab GenScan (Freiberg). This time, an international company Genetic ID will probably be “Greenpeace”'s partner.

Transgenic products are coming

According to a “Greenpeace” project coordinator Natalya Olifirenko, preliminary research has been underway since December of 2002. Back then, we found out that 30% of all samples purchased in various grocery stores in Moscow contain genetically modified ingredients and genetically modified organisms.

Most often, genetically modified organisms appear in sausages, potato chips, baby food, chocolate and sodas. Majority of these products contain 70%-80% of transgenic proteins.

The amount of transgenic products appearing on the Russian market increases with every year. Statistically, the amount of imported transgenic protein from the US has increased by 150 times. Interestingly, despite numerous regulations of the Russian Ministry of Health and of the chief doctor Gennady Onischenko, genetically modified products are still rarely labeled. Even if an item is marked, an unaware customer will most likely not realize that he/she faces a GM product. As a minimal requirement, one ought to too know that the sign ARDEX F, for instance, indicates a certain type of preservative of soy protein. As far as primary food supplies are concerned, soy protein preservatives, for instance are not required to be labeled.

Sociological surveys sanctioned by “Greenpeave” reveal that majority of Russians express negative attitudes towards GM products.

“It should be stated however, that scientists have not yet proven either positive or negative factors of GMPs. This will be known no sooner than 10-15 years. Many food manufacturers in Europe and the US for instance have already refrain from using genetically modified products, or place certain markings on all the labels in order to make people aware,” concludes the project coordinator Natalya Olefirenko.

At the end of the “Greenpeace”'s campaign, the company has contacted the store's senior manager Natalya Politova. As it turned out, she fully supports “Greenpeace”s idea. “I think that Russians should refrain from using such products in future even though their effects have not been outlined by scientists yet.” The store's press services reported to Gazeta that the chain of grocery stores “The Seventh Continent” does not accept products with labeled genetically modified ingredients. The stores aim at providing their customers with “healthy and clean products.”

Materials provided by Greenpeace

Source: Gazeta

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Author`s name Andrey Mikhailov