February 15 marked the day that started a ban on importing soybeans and corn from the United States into Russia. Food safety regulators in Russia announced that this ban is because of GMO and microbial contamination along with the absence of effective United States controls on soybean and corn exports that prevent export of grains that are quarantined. The food safety regulator reported that corn imported from the United States is often times infected with dry rot of maize. Russian officials have estimated that the potential damage from the import and spread of the quarantine foods at $126-$189 million annually.
This decision is a huge setback to agricultural business in the United States. For decades, the grain companies in the United States have remained the top of the global trade for soybeans and corn, mainly used in feed for animals like pigs, cattle, and chickens because of the high protein content.
Recently, the contamination of a national agriculture and food chains in different countries typically come in via a back door, like the free important GMO contaminated soybeans and corn. This ban on imports of corn and soybeans from the United States contributes to Russia’s plan to rid the country of human and animal GMO consumption.
The initial decision for them to make the country GMO-free left a loophole by not banning GMO corn and GMO soybeans. This was taken care of by the latest pronouncement, and the only loophole that remains is to extend the ban of GMO soybean and GMO corn import from all countries that cannot prove that their soybeans and corn are GMO free.
Aside from the United States, the world’s largest soybean and corn imports come from Argentina and Brazil. The three countries combined produce 85% of the entire world soybeans. Almost the entirety of the soybeans are GMO contaminated, aside from a small amount of certified GMO-free acres in Brazil.
Soybeans are used in almost all industrial food products like chocolate bars, food for the chickens used in KFC fried chicken, and soy drinks. Almost all of these soybeans used are considered GMO because of the power of the GMO lobby attained in the last two decades.
In light of the fact that many European countries have banned the planting of GMO, a loophole in Brussels permits food processing companies like ADM and Cargill to import GMO corn and soybeans. This contaminates the food chain because the corn and soybeans makes its way in through animal diet, and then humans consume the animals.
Because of the large presence of foods that are GMO, Russia has taken the approach that best suits them—unless it is proven GMO-free, ban it. This is a safe approach to ensure that the GMO does not make its way into the food chain. The regulatory authorities must be 100% certain that it is GMO-free, or the product will be banned from the country.
The major mistake made by the United States is that the agricultural business puts the right to free-trade above national food health and safety. Russia has done the opposite, and is putting the health and safety of the citizens above the interests of corporations and agricultural businesses.