Russia: GMO Legislation Continues to Tighten
Russia is considering a complete ban on the cultivation of grain and livestock containing GMOs,, reported Vladislav Vorotnikov in Global Meat News. Last month, Russia’s State Duma started to debate a new bill, which could add a number of amendments to the current legislation on GMOs. This includes one measure introduced by Duma Irina Yaroyava that would potentially introduce criminal liability to anyone engaged in the cultivation and use of GMO products. According to Global Meat News, feeding animals with GM components is banned in Russia, but many manufacturers ignore the requirement.
Ghana: GE Cowpea, Rice Faces Lawsuit
Just two months after reports that Bt cowpea had succeeded in the second year of field trials, the crop faces a challenge from one of Ghana’s leading political parties. The Convention People’s Party (CPP) announced last month that it is joining the organization Food Sovereignty Ghana in a lawsuit that would stop the release of GE cowpea and rice. According to The Weekend Sun, the suit against the country’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture and National Biosafety Committee claims that the agencies do not have the authority to release GE crops and that they did not comply with Ghana’s biosafety law.
US: Judge Upholds Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law
A federal judge has rejected a bid to strike down a Vermont law that would make the state the first in the country to require GMO labeling, the Associated Press reported. On April 27, U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss in Burlington ruled against the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other industry groups in their request to block the law from taking effect on July 1, 2016. While the ruling does not block the law from taking effect, the judge “partially denied” the state's motion to dismiss the industry lawsuit, which means the case is likely to go to trial. For more coverage on the Vermont ruling, see the AP’s story and USA Today’s feature on the case.
Kenya: Scientists: “Repeal Ban on GMO Imports Now”
A group of leading scientists meeting at the International Agri-biotech and Biosafety Communication conference in Nairobi last month harshly criticized the country’s Health Secretary for ignoring the opinion of the National Biosafety Authority in favor of a task force report whose composition was “biased,” the Daily Nation reported. In a statement, the group called for an immediate repeal of the country’s ban on GMO imports.
The task force report favored by Health Secretary James Machari claimed that the country lacked the regulatory framework to evaluate GMO crops. But according to the Daily Nation, a group of Kenyan scientists argued that the country has the infrastructural, human and legal capacity for biosafety regulation that meets international standards. Joined by a group of 30 delegates from around the world, the Kenyan scientists said the current ban on modified food must be overturned, as it has has negatively affected food security, human health, trade and research. The Daily Nation reported, “Kenya risks being isolated in world trade as many countries shift to the technology to cut on production costs. Read the complete text of the Nairobi ABBC-2015 Declaration here.
Oceania: Facing Food Security Emergency, Vanuatu Threatens to Deport Anti-GMO Group
Vanuatu, a tiny South Pacific nation 1000 miles off the coast of Australia, has taken an unprecedented stand against anti-GMO activists. According to a report on Radio New Zealand, the island nation has threatened the anti-GMO group, called the New Caledonian NGO Stop GMO Pacific, with deportation if it does not stop spreading what the government is calling “unnecessary propaganda about the danger of GM plant material.”
In an interview explaining the threatened deportation threat, Timothy Tumokon, the Director of Vanuatu’s Biosecurity department, describes the country as being in state of food security emergency. Under these conditions, Tumokon said, the state “can do whatever it can to ensure that there is no derailing of the food aid program that we are undertaking.”