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In 2009 the State Committee for consumer standards will open 7 additional laboratories for GMO detection

Interfax-Ukraine, Kiev, 16 July

During this year the State Committee of Ukraine on technical regulation and consumer policy (the State Committee for consumer standards) is planning to increase the number of its supervised laboratories for detection of genetically modified objects (GMO) in food products from two to nine, as reported by the Committee Deputy Head Sergey Cherepkov.
“By the fourth quarter we (the State Committee for consumer standards - Interfax) are planning to start the work of seven more laboratories... Training of laboratory personnel that will perform such tests will start in September”, he said during the Round table under the topic “Problematic issues of labeling food products containing GMO” held on Thursday in the Interfax-Ukraine agency.
At the same time S. Cherepkov specified that as of now five laboratories for detection of GMO in food products are operating in Ukraine in general.
Also, according to the Committee Deputy Head, in 2010 the committee is planning to equip all laboratories functioning in the regions of Ukraine with equipment necessary for such tests.
Speaking about the committee’s activities, S. Cherepkov reminded that the State Committee for consumer standards initiated the corresponding decrees by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on introduction of food product labeling for GMO availability, in particular decree N 468 dated 13 May 2009 defining the procedure for labeling food products containing GMO that entered into force starting on 1 July 2009.
At the same time S. Cherepkov noted that the State Committee for consumer standards controls the quality of food products solely in the process of their certification or during the relevant tests of the products. In accordance with the government decree the Committee is authorized to control only observance of the requirements for packages and their labeling with regard to GMO availability or absence, he added.
The First Deputy Head of the All-Ukrainian Environmental League Tatiana Tymochko stated that the Law of Ukraine “On state bio-safety system during GMO creation, testing, transportation and use” is the worst regulation of the bio-safety issues among all effective laws in Europe and post-soviet countries.
Specifically, she considers that this law does not determine precise percentage of GMO contents in food product that should be labeled and does not regulate the issue of GMO presence-absence in food products, and because of that the corresponding amendments to four laws of Ukraine have been drawn up already.
Also, she mentioned the high level of GMO problem awareness by the population as compared to the officials who are called up to resolve such issues.
On their behalf, the lawyers also paid attention to possible obstacles for implementation of the specified governmental decree.
Thus, the Attorney at law and Managing partner of OL&RUST Law Firm Roman Khrustenko specified that with this decree the Cabinet of Ministers has gone a little bit beyond its powers, determining the precise percentage of GMO contents in food product that should be labeled, but at the same time introduced more strict regulations binding to specify such information on product label.
The Attorney at law of Volkov Koziakov and Partners Law Firm Lesya Kovtun added that the norm prescribed by the decree, according to which the State Committee for consumer standards is empowered to control the GMO content in products, will be ineffective, as in accordance with the current legislation the committee is only authorized to control quality conformity of the product with the corresponding standards.
“Specifying the true information on GMO content in food products is more likely the goodwill of the product manufacturer or supplier”, she concluded.
As it was reported, the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine N 468 of 13 May that was made public on the Verkhovna Rada web-site prescribes to label a product with GMO as such if GMO content in product or its constituents exceeds 0.1%.
If a product does not contain GMO or its content is less than specified, the “without GMO” label can be used, but such information should be verified by the State Committee for consumer standards.
According to the decree, food products containing GMO or produced using GMO and brought in the food turnover of Ukraine without the relevant labels shall be subject to withdrawal from the circulation. At the same time, based on the data from the All-Ukrainian Environmental League, the Cabinet of Ministers increased the allowed percentage of contents of genetically modified objects for their obligatory labeling from 0.1% to 0.9% in accordance with the standards adopted in the European Union.
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