'Russia puts GMO genie back in the bottle'
William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant whose internationally best-selling books have been translated into thirteen foreign languages. He has lectured as Visiting Professor at Beijing University of Chemical Technology and delivers talks and private seminars around the world on subjects of current importance from economics to oil geopolitics to agribusiness. A widely discussed analyst of current political and economic developments, his provocative articles and analyses have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines and well-known international websites. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal and member of the editorial board of Eurasia magazine. Based in Frankfurt, Germany he may be reached via his website www.williamengdahl.com
Russian PMs have pondered a draft bill outlawing GMOs. A draft bill submitted to the Russian parliament likens GMO production and distribution to terrorism. After entering the World Trade Organization, Russia was expected to allow GM food production and distribution within its market. However, in March Russia’s President Putin said the country would stay GM-free without violating its obligations to the WTO.
RT:What do you think about this latest bill in Russia's parliament, which equates GM producers who flout the rules with terrorists. Is that a bit over the top?
William Engdahl: The language on Russian media blogs is [that] punishment for knowingly introducing GMO crops into Russia illegally should have a punishment comparable to that given to terrorists for knowingly hurting people. The direction of this is anything that stops, and puts the genie back in the bottle called genetic manipulation of plants and organisms is to the good for the future of the mankind. The comment about 20 percent of harvest increase in some GMOs is absolute rubbish. There is no long-term harvest gain that has been proven for GMO crops anywhere in the world because they are not modified to get harvest increases. So this is just soap bubbles that Monsanto, Syngenta and GMO giants are putting out to loll the public into thinking it is something good.
RT:Will this measure, if adopted, reduce the number of GM products on the market?
WE: I hope it does. I haven’t got access to the paragraphs of legislation but I think the direction that Prime Minister Medvedev indicated two-three months ago in terms of making this U-turn against GMO that seemed to have a green light after WTO. A year ago it was looking like GMO was a common thing in Russia which would be a catastrophe. I think the point is Russia has some of the most precious non-destroyed top soil on this planet and the richness of this top soil, if it is rigorously controlled to be GMO-free, to be free from chemicals, from Roundup or Atrazyne which is Syngenta's favorite poison, and is marketed on the world markets as certified organic. Russia has a huge export market in Germany, in Western Europe, the European Union and elsewhere because there is a tremendous lack of it. So anything that Russia does to block GMO, keep in mind, the EU has not certified for commercial planting any GMO for years. There is such a great popular opposition in the EU that Monsanto, despite all the proclivities of the corrupt European Commission in Brussels to go with it, or even some people in the German government. The population is absolutely adamant here, they do not want this in their food.
RT:How can consumers be better protected from inadvertently buying genetically modified food?
WE: They can quite easily. First of all, they can do what the State of California tried, and Monsanto spent millions of dollars to block it and will try again. The State of Washington tried it and the same thing with Monsanto spending millions of dollars to create false lobbying campaigns [ensued]. The State of Vermont tried and succeeded in getting labeling on products that contain above 0.9 percent of GMO, which is similar to the EU. That is labeled on the shelves, when you buy this box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes you make sure to look and see if this is not GMO corn in my Cornflakes that my child is going to eat or is it this GMO garbage that Kellogg’s would so lovingly like to get rid of. That is one step. The other thing is for people to become informed about what we eat. Support local farmers, it is not against technology. I have seen it directly in Germany and elsewhere in Europe that properly done organic farming creates greater harvest yields than industrialized agriculture. The productivity is better, the quality is finer. The animals that are range fed, grass fed cows, chickens, they are real cows and chickens, they are not these synthetic pseudo-meat that we buy on the supermarket shelves in the big chains in Europe and in the US. So that is something that Russia has a great positive contribution to make.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.