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Unmarked GM Foods in Georgian market-place

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 8
Genetically modified (GM) products and the draft concerning the issue were the main subjects of debate for the opposition and majority during the parliamentary session on December 7. Genetically modified products are being sold in the country without any special marks indicating this, for which the opposition blames the authorities and is awaiting an explanation from the Government.

According to the resolution made by the Georgian Parliament’s on March 26, the authorities must present a draft on the spread and use of GM products within 6 months. According to the bill, the rules on the import, re-export and placing in the Georgian market of genetically modified products in Georgia, would be specified. However, to date the authorities have not presented the bill.

“The authorities’ attitude concerning the issue can be called demagogy…. In Georgia, when our population is nearly 3.5 million, 80 % of products are being imported. And as a result of genetically modified imports, Georgian agriculture is in a very difficult situation, as it cannot compete with such large scaled imported genetically modified products,” said Giorgi Targamadze, Leader of the Christian Democratic Movement.

Opposition MP, Guram Chakhvadze suggested one reason why the Government is stalling the process: “that there are interested sides, importers among them, which are not interested in marking such products, as it will affect the products’ prices.”

The authorities called the opposition’s accusations unfounded and named two reasons why they were unable to fulfil the obligation on time. “Firstly, we are carrying out negotiations with the European Union on free trade and this issue is one of the components of negotiations. That is why the process has been prolonged. Secondly, genetically modified products are not harmful to your health. If they were, they would not be on American and European markets,” the authorities’ representative, Petre Tsiskarishvili responded.

Biologist Nana Aleksishvili told The Messenger, “Genetically modified products are very harmful for one’s health. Apart from other illnesses, they are a significant cause of cancers. Much can be said on the issue. One thing I can say is that at the present moment in every country where genetically modified products are being sold, they are marked and it is a person’s own choice, whether due to the lower price, he buys it or not. So such products must also be marked in Georgia.”

According to analyst Giorgi Khutsishvili, “I am not a professional in this field, but I know that those products are prohibited in many countries. However, regarding the authorities and the opposition’s attitude on the issue, I can say, that if the authorities can not fulfil some obligations on time, they should explain the reasons to the public. The opposition should act on time and remind the authorities of their duties as soon as the authorities have exceeded the concrete dates. As for why the draft has not been presented yet, some personal and private interests cannot be ruled out. There are companies which will see serious profits until the adoption of law regarding the case. I am among those who demand to know immediately how much such products have been sold and how harmful are they for one’s health, “Khutshishvili told The Messenger.