Russia bans American corn and soybeans

© Jim Young
Starting February 15, corn and soybeans from the US will no longer be welcome in Russia, announced the country's food and safety watchdog on Wednesday. Rosselkhoznadzor says American producers have failed to meet Russian biological standards.

"Since the products shipped from the United States pose a real threat to Russia, and the US guarantees are not valid, we reserve the right to introduce temporary restrictions on imports of US corn and soybeans," said Rosselkhoznadzor spokesman Aleksey Alekseenko.

The watchdog has found dry rot in corn and numerous weed seeds in soybeans, he added.

US officials said the assessment of corn is done without checking microbiological conditions.

"We were dumfounded. Every batch of products should come with a microbiological certificate that guarantees food safety. It turns out the products are not being tested,” said Alekseenko.

In 2015, the watchdog found 64 cases of bacterial contamination in US soybeans. In January 2016, it found four additional cases of bacterial contamination, including a bacteria non-existent in Russia.

The US exported 300,000 tons of soybeans to Russia from January to October last year.

The possible cost of the quarantined goods sent to Russia is 15 billion rubles ($188 million), according to the watchdog.