The Russian Food and Safety Watchdog body Rosselkhoznadzor, has announced that corn and soybeans entering the country from the United States of America has been banned. The ban will take effect from February 15.
Russian officials recently held a phone conversation with their United States counterparts, expressing serious concern over continued shipments of grain products. The officials stressed that the shipments were unsafe for Russia. According to the RT English News, Russian officials made the decision on February 10, after becoming convinced that the products from the United States pose threat to consumers in the country.
Rosselkhoznadzor said American producers have failed to meet Russian biological standards, and that the immediate and the safest option now, according to Rosselkhoznadzor, is to ban these products from entering the country.
“Since the products shipped from the United States pose a real threat to Russia, and the U.S. guarantees are not valid, we reserve the right to introduce temporary restrictions on imports of U.S. corn and soybeans” Aleksey Alekseenko, spokesman for Rosselkhoznadzor said.
Reports have suggested that the watchdog found dry rot in corn, and numerous weed seeds in soybeans imported into Russia from the United States. Alekseenko said some of the products entered Russia without proper certification.
According to statistics made public by Rosselkhoznadzor, in 2015, the body found 64 cases of bacterial contamination in soybeans imported from the United States shipments. Again, in January 2016, the body discovered four additional cases of bacterial contamination, including bacteria that are completely unknown in Russia.
Alekseenko was quoted as saying “We were dumfounded. Every batch of products should come with a microbiological certificate that guarantees food safety. It turns out the products are not being tested”.
However, United States officials have responded that the assessment of corn is done without checking microbiological conditions. Between January and October 2015, the United States exported 300,000 tons of soybeans to Russia. It’s reported that the possible cost of quarantined goods sent to Russia from the United States is around $188 million. Russia is said to be a major grain exporter, but the country specifically imports soy and limited amount of corn, mainly as seed; or to produce popcorn.
Meanwhile, in a televised address by the Russian Agriculture Minister, Alexander Tkachev, denials that the current import ban against the United States was politically motivated, have been made, countering speculation by some unknown sources. He said Russia took the decision on the basis of protecting its citizens from any harmful effects the products are likely to cause. Mr Tkachev also added that Russia is considering replacing the American products with those from Latin America.
But the France national television, France24 reports that since Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia over the country’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine in 2014, Russia has stopped importing grain and other agriculture products from Europe as a counter-measure.
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