Georgia Remains Test Animal for GMO
04 October, 2012
Georgia Remains Test Animal for GMO

Georgia with the gap in regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms largely known as GMO products, faces a serious risk to remain a test animal for the dangerous ingredients. 

The recent confidential experiment on rats led French scientists to scandalous results that GMO product are highly cancerogenic. Based on the information released by Reuters on September 20, 2012, 200 rats divided into three groups, were exposed to feeding the GMO maize for 2-years. One group was fed only with GMO maize, another

one was fed with maize containing the widespread sort of GMO - Roundup, and the third one was fed with ordinary GMO-free corn processed by herbicides.

The rats were fed with GMO-corn of the US-based company Monsanato. As a result, tumors of the size of ping-pong ball were developed in the tested rats. The research revealed that the death rate was higher in the rats fed with GMO-product and pesticide rather than in the group fed with ordinary maize.  According to Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, the head of the experiment project, this here experiment was the first ever attempt to research the effect of GMO-product processed with the pesticide on health in much more longer-term and more comprehensively than governments and industry did before. He thinks it is a crime that this kind of experiment was not conducted earlier and that sanitary powers did not require more long-term researches within 15 years since GMO-product was admitted in sale as harmless.  Presentation of the research results together with a film show We All Are Test Animals was scheduled to be held in France on September 26.

France currently bans GMO crops in spite of enormous pressure from Monsanto and the EU. The EU in its turn has been resisting GMO for a long time but subdued to a court decision settling for the US and Canada at last and admitted GMO product by 2000. But to protect consumers the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety [an international agreement on biosafety seeking to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology] was signed by 50 countries in 2003. This protocol enables countries ban GMO imports if they feel there is not enough scientific evidence on the product safety and requires exporters to label shipments containing genetically altered commodities such as corn or cotton.

The legislation also puts out the limited GMO level as of 0.6-0.7%. Georgia joined Cartagena Protocol in 2008, however Georgian consumers still remain vulnerable to GMO risks for no GMO-regulations ensued as of yet. On the other hand, harvesting GMO-containing corn that easily infects its adjacent territories may severely affect Georgian soil that is acknowledged biologically pure and GMO-free as of yet.

Georgian government has somewhat addressed to drafting a proper legislation on GMO since 2009 and the law was expected to be enforced since 2010 but the issue was delayed for eight-times and remains open up to this days.

“Because it is not a political will, because some big wigs enjoy high profits of GMO-import: GMO product is cheaper than GMO-free but they import here GMO-product and sell it as GMO-free to enjoy bigger profits,” Paata Koghuashvili, an agriculture expert, said.

The only preventive remedy that Georgian government has made to protect its consumer from GMO-product was a decree of the agriculture minister on Labeling [issued in 2009] that requires from importers and entrepreneurs to indicate on the labels whether or not the product is GMO-based. The paper does not require indication of the level of GMO ingredients as well but even this half-done state will stays unexecuted.

“We cannot implement the state monitoring on GMO product as far as there is no lab to make a proper analysis,” Veriko Gulua, a spokesperson of National Food Agency of Georgia that is an arm of the agriculture ministry, told Georgian Journal.

“And who is the culprit that there is no lab?” Madona Koidze, Head of the Union for Protection Consumers’ Rights, a non-governmental watch-dog, wonders. According to her, since all labs are privately owned in Georgia they need a proper demand to be inspired for acquiring due accreditation for GMO-testing. Otherwise they may face commercial losses.

This accreditation is very expensive and labs cannot pay-off the lay-out on accreditation if there is no demand. Koidze believes it is the state that must define this demand. Consequenfly one can hardly find product at Georgian supermarkets marked as GMO-product.

“There is no state supervision so nobody has ever been punished for breaking the labeling decree while we believe a lot of product imported here is GMO-based,  over 80% of soy is GMO in the world, and the product made of soy does enter Georgia too,” Koidze says.

Levan Silagava, Head of the Association of Wheat Importers of Georgia, believes that on the wheat and flour side Georgian consumer can feel safer as the entire import comes only from Russia, Ukraine or Kazakhstan  -  all these three countries have a ban on GMO. However he does not rule out that GMO-corn penetrates through black holes to Russia as hearsay goes.

“But this might be only very small quantities as Russia fights GMO and this cannot affect Russian export that comes here,” Silagava said adding that testing in Georgia is essential whatsoever.

After the scandalous rat-test findings in France, Ukrainian government launched an overall-testing of seeds no matter imported or processed by Ukrainian companies.  Georgian government has made no outcry as of yet. Very likely Georgian consumer will remain as a testing animal to GMO for an uncertain period.

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