Azerbaijan bans GMO tobacco, wine and cotton products

By Nigar Orujova

No GMO tobacco, wine and cotton products can be imported to Azerbaijan or produced in the country from now on.

While debates on the danger of the genetically modified organisms are continuing around the world, Azerbaijan strictly bans GMOs in the country.

Relevant amendments into the law ‘On Tobacco’, ‘On viticulture and winemaking’ and ‘On the cotton’ have already been drafted, the Parliament reported.

The changes to the law ‘On Tobacco’ ban the import of tobacco and tobacco products, which were produced using genetically modified plants or agricultural plants created with methods of biotechnology and genetic engineering.

Such products, along with tobacco products, containing the amount of nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide above the permissible norm are withdrawn from circulation.

The amendments to the law ‘On viticulture and winemaking’ presuppose that genetically modified plants or agricultural plant materials created by using modern methods of biotechnology and genetic engineering cannot be used in the manufacture of wine products.

The amendments also ban import of products created using these methods. The same restriction applied for the production and import of cotton.

The country’s government has earlier prohibited the import and distribution of GMOs and the use of genetically modified plants in food products. However, experts believe that such products enter the market due to the lack of examination.

Consumers should be careful while buying abnormally large fruits and vegetables if they do not want to face GMOs.

Earlier, Chairman of the Free Consumers Union Eyyub Huseynov told the local press that, GMO products are not only on sale, but also grown in Azerbaijan.

He said GMO products including watermelons, tomatoes, more than 50 percent of potatoes, 60 percent of beets, and 50 percent of corn grown in the country. Moreover, genetically modified seeds were being imported from abroad, he stated.

Huseynov noted that there are only two laboratories available to test these products in the country, which is not enough to ensure compliance with the government's position.

However, creation of a special free laboratory for GMOs, which would be open to anyone who wanted to test products, can change the situation.

The chairman believes some $60,000 is needed to create a laboratory to analyze the content of GMOs in a variety of products, including readymade food, seeds, and raw materials. The cost of an analysis is estimated at $700. Professional personnel also required in this sphere.

In April, Azerbaijan decided to enforce criminal liability for the use of GMOs. Moreover, changes have been made to the requirements on packaging and labeling that will assure consumers of the lack of GMOs in food products.

Later in July, the State Committee for Standardization, Metrology, and Patents reported that no GMOs were found during a routine check.

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Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’ staff journalist. Follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar

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