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Towards biological jeopardy. What waits for Ukraine tomorrow?

Towards biological jeopardy. What waits for Ukraine tomorrow?
The Decree № 114 “On approval of order on state registry of genetically modified organisms sources in food, cosmetic and medical substance, which contain such organisms or made out of it” adopted on 18th February, 2009 by Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine became one more step which hold Ukraine away from enforcement of the effective biological safety system.

Comment by Olexiy Angurets, Zelenyi Svit/Friends of the Earth Ukraine, member of the CIS Alliance for Biosafety

To my regret I have to state that absence of state policy on biosafety and absence of professional approach towards elaboration of legal basis, have leaded towards complete exposure of our society to uncontrolled spreading of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). If we have lost our lawmaking experts, then we should consult our neighbour’s experience. For example, Law of Moldova “On Biological Safety” remains the best example of legislation in this field considering distinctive features of former Soviet Union’s states. Or principle “the worse – the better” continues to be supported by GMO lobby?

Let’s specify now why Decree № 114, which should serve to bringing order in the GMO releasing, will lead to contrary consequences.

Given document not only violate Ukrainian Constitution, but does not accord with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biodiversity and Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters either. More over in several cases it contradicts to them. All these are evidence for gross violation of supreme law.

The Decree contradicts to the article 50 of the Ukrainian Constitution, according to which «Everyone is guarantied a right to free access to the information on state of the environment, food and household goods quality, as well as a right to spread it. Such information cannot be restricted by anyone».

In particular, the suggested state registration procedure does not require from an applicant to present the information, without which the wide usage of GMO cannot be considered as safe, namely:
- about environment and health impact assessment and risks cased by introduction into the environment genetically modified organisms or combinations of such organisms;
- about GMO monitoring methods and plans;
- about remediation measures to be taken in case of extraordinary events/ situations caused with dissemination of GMO.

The registration procedure proposed in the order do not foresee any forms of public participation in the decision making on GMO registration matters or even make application information public. Contrary, article 7 of the Order says: “information which is contained in the application documents for state registration of product is confidential and cannot be made public or used by third party without applicant’s agreement”. Curiously, regardless of common practice in case of necessity to get additional information, registering clerk “is forbidden to request any additional document which is not listed in the Order”.

Free of charge GMO registration procedure gives rise to surprisee. Apparently, the authors of the order consider that GMO diffusion and selling are priority directions for Ukraine that should be accompanied by such kind of privileges. For example in Moldova, fee for considering the application and obtaining permit to receive, test, use and sell GMO forms off-budget fund of environmental protection central executive entity.

Numerous information in mass-media coverage regarding adoption of the Order affirms, that additional customs’s checks will be introduced. However none word is mentioned about this in the Order.

I do not have a clear idea what has happened to the Order № 985 adopted earlier on the 1st August 2007, which were protected by All-Ukrainian Environmental League in court. Particularly according to this Order the threshold on marking of 0,9% of GMO was introduced as well as ban on children food containing GMOs. I could not find any fact on this document enforcement.

Till 1st June 2009 (the day when the order № 114 will come into force) we have illusion of GMO illegal presence in Ukraine. After all, according to the Ukrainian Law “On state system on biosafety while producing, testing, transporting and using genetically modified organisms” (№3595, 31.05.07) GMO releasing to the environment is forbidden before it was registered by the state. Later farce, called “state registration” will legalise GMO both on our shops shelves and on countries agricultural fields.

Thus, within given time limits we must demand cancellation of this Order due to violation of the supreme law and inconsistency with international agreements earlier adopted by Ukraine. Efforts which civil society has put over a long period of time to save Ukraine from groundless technology of wide introduction of GMO only partly yielded a result. But now even those achievements can be reduced to zero. Will we allow this to happen?

Olexiy Angurets,
Coordinator of the campaign "Biosafety and biotechnology's monitoring"
Zelenyi Svit / Friends of the Earth Ukraine

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