Biggest Russian food and feed importers adopt GE free policy

Press release - 23 November, 2006
Today, 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 thatit will turn its new factory currently under construction inKaliningrad into a GE free zone. The new oil-extraction andfeed-processing plant will not only produce GE free soya oils andfeeds, but also GE free maize and GE free oilseed rape products. (1)Following the move by Sodruzhestvo the feed producer Rybflotprom, whichcontrols 7 % of the Russian feed market and is 80 % owned by the Frenchcompany Provimi, also announced it has adopted a GE free policy for allits products.

Both companies will soon start importing GE free soya from Brazil instead of GE soya from Argentina and the US. (2)

"Greenpeace welcomes the move by the Russian companies it's asignificant shift in the global market towards GE free products," saidGeert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GE campaigner. "This is goodnews for Russian consumers, who reject the use of GE ingredients intheir foods by an overwhelming majority of 80 %.  It is yetanother blow to the global genetic engineering industry - and inparticular to Monsanto - the world's biggest seller of GE seeds."

The announcements were made at a press conference at the Greenpeaceship Arctic Sunrise, currently in the harbour of Kaliningrad. For thelast three weeks the Arctic Sunrise was on the Baltic Sea exposingcontroversial imports of GE food and feed products being imported intoRussia. (3)

The decisions by Sodruzhestvo and Rybflotprom will have a strong effecton countries that export GE products such as the US and Argentina andwill cause a shift in the demand to countries such as Brazil where soyaand maize production is still predominantly GE free. In a writtenstatement Sodruzhestvo director S.L. Kandybovich explicitly stated thathis company will in the future mainly use imported soy from Brazil. "Wethink that Brazil is the only country that grows GMO-free soy, whosequality meets our criteria", his statement said. (4)

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

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that isgrounded in the principles of sustainability, protection ofbiodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe andnutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwantedtechnology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversityand poses unacceptable risks to health.

VVPR info: Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GE campaigner, mobile: +31 6 4619 7328Natalia Olefirenko, Greenpeace Russia GE campaigner, mobile: +7 903 739 4956Suzette Jackson, Greenpeace International communications officer, mobile +31 6 4619 7324

Notes: (1) Sodruzhestvo is currently building a new processing plant for oil seeds in Kaliningrad. The new factory is expected to have a turnover of 2 million tonnes of soya, maize and oilseed per year of which 1.5 million tonnes will be soya products used for both food and feed.(2) According to data provided by the Russian customs at present Russia imports approximately 1 million tons of soya products which are used in both feed and food industry. Data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that 77 percent of soya imports into Russia originate from Argentina and the Netherlands. Most soy products imported from the Netherlands contain U.S. origin soybeans that have been processed in the Netherlands or other EU countries. In Argentina almost 100 % of the cultivated soya is GE, in the US this is approximately 90 %, meaning that most soya currently imported into Russia is genetically engineered.(3) On 13 November, Greenpeace boarded a Russian vessel, RUSICH-1, loaded with 5000 tons of feed soya destined for St. Petersburg in the middle of the Baltic Sea. The samples taken from the cargo have now been tested in a laboratory. The lab tests reveal that 78 % of the soya on board of the Rusich-1 was genetically engineered. The captain of the ship could not present any documentation identifying the cargo as GE soya, which is a legal requirement according to European Regulations as well as Russian law.(4) Statement by Sodruzhestvo is available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/sodruzhestvo-ge-free-company-s