IN KAZAKHSTAN EVERYONE CAN BUY
GENETICALLY MODIFIED PRODUCTS AND NOBODY WILL KNOW
Those citizens of Kazakhstan who often travel abroad willingly or
accidentally learn about genetically modified products (GMPs). After hearing
GMPs-related horror stories our compatriots return home and try to find out
whether genetically modified products are sold in Kazakhstan.
This is almost impossible since in stores no GMPs-related data is available
and sales staff is often even not aware of the mere fact of GMPs existence.
Hence, people living in Kazakhstan are prompted to jump to a wrong
conclusion that there are no shipments of genetically modified products to
Of course, in reality the situation with genetically modified products in
Kazakhstan is totally different. Significant quantities of genetically
modified products have been imported for a long time already. However, in
Kazakhstan GMPs are sold without any special marking, unlike, say, in Russia
where all genetically modified components are required to be specially
Attorney of the National Consumers League, Ms. Natalia Dalabaeva suggests:
“Nobody does “GMP” marking in Kazakhstan. However, for example, cereals
and chocolate imported from Canada are said to be produced using genetic
engineering methodologies. No one knows for sure. Relevant expert analysis
is not conducted. National Consumers League recently started to conduct
research on the issue, however the study was initiated by the League’s staff
and not by consumers. So far consumers have never raised the issue with the
League and no complaints have been filed.
We have just started our research. Of course, we shall cooperate with
government officials, biologists, medical experts. However, we are not in
the position to recommend whether to buy or to stay away from genetically
modified products. Our goal is to make sure that products are appropriately
marked. Then consumers will have to decide for themselves which products to
Ms. Dalabaeva considers that based on the currently available data it is
possible to suggest that nothing horrible has been going on so far.
Sometimes there are unexpected allergic reactions. However, genetically
engineered “new generation” of products demonstrates high resistance to
adverse effects, is not affected by pesticides, looks perfectly well and is
sold at lower price levels. American scientists (The US is the world’s
leader in genetically modified production of crops, particularly, soy beans,
corn and potatoes. Consequently, some researchers argue that in reality
anti-GMP protestors are afraid of American monopoly on the world’s
agricultural commodities markets) believe that genetically modified crops
will help developing and poor countries fight otherwise inevitable mass
starvation. How will the new products affect future generations? There is no
definite answer for this question.
By the way, Kazakhstan’s new Consumer Rights Law approved by the
Parliament’s lower chamber and passed on to the upper chamber contains no
reference to genetically modified products.
The National Sanitary and Epidemiological Station also provided no
information regarding genetically modified products sold in Kazakhstan.
Head of the Station’s Foodstuff Section, Ms. Marina Kuzhukeeva explained
that there were no methodologies, equipment or staff available to conduct
relevant testing. Allocated resources barely allow to test safety and
hygiene properties of products. Representatives of the State Standards
Agency’s Foodstuff Certification Section at first did not understand the
nature of the questions. Later, the Head of Foodstuff Certification
Section, Ms. Enlyk Tynybek, stated that Kazakhstan had no equipment to
conduct relevant tests.
Food Institute’s staff seemed to be much better informed. However,
Professor Igor Zoi positively assured us that no genetically modified
products had reached Kazakhstan. At least, he was unable to recollect
any certification testing performed on such products. The fact that no
testing was performed means that theoretically no GMPs can be sold in
Kazakhstan. Considering that currently in Kazakhstan there are no
legislative acts dealing with genetically modified products, GMPs suppliers
do not break any laws by not submitting their products for testing.
What is Professor Zoi’s personal opinion of the products eagerly consumed
by Americans and despised by Europeans?
Mr. Zoi’s opinion appears to be very positive because genetically
modified products have predefined characteristics meaning that it is
possible to increase content of certain important elements or to improve
resistance to adverse effects thus increasing crop yields.
Aren’t you appalled by arguments presented by GMPs opponents stating that
humanity will pay dearly for genetic experiments and that introduction of
foreign DNA into key foodstuffs is unnatural and is associated with profound
These arguments are groundless. I am positive that we, too, need to start
growing genetically modified products. Thanks to genetic engineering we can
improve resistance of plants to insects and adverse weather conditions, and,
I repeat, to improve positive qualities of products. Of course, negative
qualities can be aggravated, too, since every product contains negative
characteristics as well as positive ones and there is nothing 100% safe for
all living organisms. However, this fundamental dichotomy can not be changed.
We have to learn how to select and choose.
It is considered that further development of genetically modified products
will widen the gap between rich and poor both at the international level and
within countries. For example, currently in the United States consumers can
buy 100% non-modified products in special organic farming stores at
relatively higher prices. Our consumers do not have the right to choose
between organic and genetically modified products. Quality of life of the
vast majority of our people is so low that consumers prefer whatever is less
By Lubov Krasnova