Cablegate: Ukraine Considering Biotech Ban

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R 251455Z NOV 09


E.O. 12958: N/A


REF: KYIV 2018

1. (U) Summary. Ukrainian legislators have crafted new legislation
that, if adopted, would institute a complete ban on importation and
domestic production of genetically modified (GM) materials in
Ukraine, overriding previous laws regulating trade in GM products.
Research on public sentiment indicates a strong antipathy towards GM
products among respondents, which could increase the draft ban's
chances for enactment. End Summary.

New GM Ban Being Considered

2. (U) The Ukrainian parliament (the Verkhovna Rada) convened a
round table to address the issue of GM content in food products on
October 23, 2009. The event, "On State Policies of the Creation of
the System for GMO Use and Control" was organized by the
Parliamentary Committee on Industrial and Regulatory Policies and
Entrepreneurship (CIRPE), which is headed by BYuT Deputy Natalya
Korolevska. Representatives of GOU authorities and industry
stakeholders attended the meeting. Some of the presenters spoke in
favor of biotechnology, but the majority of the floor-time went to
opponents of genetic modification, including the director of the
All-Ukrainian Ecological League and a representative from CIRPE.
The overall mood of the roundtable participants was decidedly
against biotechnology products.

3. (U) Following the roundtable, Party of Regions Deputy Yuri
Miroshnichenko registered Draft Law 5286, "On the Ban of Use of GM
Organisms" for consideration by The Committee of Science and
Education (CSE) on October 28, 2009. The draft is long on ideology
and short on specifics. However, a second Draft Law was submitted
as 5286-1 "On the Proclamation of Ukraine Free of Genetically
Modified Organisms (GMO)" on November 3, 2009, by Communist Party
Deputy Volodymyr Darylenko. This version proposes an outright ban
on all GM content, without exceptions. The language of Draft Law
No. 5286-1 specifically prohibits the import, sale, consumption or
registration of any product with GM content. It includes additional
language that would nullify specific, previous Ukrainian laws
applying to GM.

Could Become A Campaign Issue

4. (U) The CSE has requested comments from the relevant agencies by
mid-December, 2009. The Academy of Agricultural Sciences, National
Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Economy are expected to oppose
the measures on the grounds that they reverse a number of positive
developments in trade and GMO regulation made over the past decade.
Within the Executive branch, only the Ministry of Ecology is
expected to endorse the proposed ban. It is possible that the
legislation might become a campaign issue, if political parties (the
Party of Regions, in particular) lobby for it to bolster their
claims of protecting the people of Ukraine.

Chances of Enactment High

5. (U) Industry representatives believe that the chances of the
draft laws being enacted are relatively high at the present time,
and they are working with the scientific community and sympathetic
elements within the GOU to lobby against the ban. At the forefront
of this effort is a letter drafted by Ukrainian scientists to Prime
Minster Tymoshenko in opposition to the ban. The letter has been
signed by two Vice Presidents of the Ukrainian Academy of Agrarian
Sciences, the Vice President of the Ukrainian Academy of Medical
Sciences, and several Directors of State Institutes.

6. (U) Political considerations make it difficult to forecast a
timeline for the draft laws' progression through the Rada. The CSE
could have the resolution prepared for submission to the Rada for
consideration by the end of the year. If the drafts do not receive
first readings before the New Year's break, their consideration by
the full Rada would likely be scheduled in February, after the
presidential elections.

Previous GM Legislation

7. (U) Ukraine's first "umbrella" biosafety law was enacted on June
21, 2007. It was part of the package of legislation required for
Ukraine's accession to the WTO. The legislation committed that
Ukraine would address biotechnology on the basis of scientific
evaluation. The umbrella law, "Law of the State System of
Bio-Safety in Creating, Testing, Transporting and Using
Genetically-Modified Organisms," established ground rules for
interactions between individuals and organizations that would be
involved with genetically modified organisms but lacked regulatory

8. (U) The "umbrella" law has been expanded by several subsequent
Cabinet of Ministers Resolutions and other decrees, including: "On
Approval of the Procedure of Issuing Permits on Importation of
Unregistered Genetically Modified Organisms into the Customs
Territory of Ukraine for Scientific Research or State Approval
(Testing) Purposes" (No. 734, August 20, 2008); "On the Provisional
Criteria for Handling the Genetically Modified Organisms and
Realization of Genetic Engineering Activity in Enclosed Systems"
(No. 922, October 16, 2008); "On Approval of the Procedure of State
Registration of Genetically Modified Organisms, as well as Food
Products, Cosmetics, and Medicines that Were Obtained with Their
Use" (No. 114, February 18, 2009); "On Approval of the Procedure for
Labeling Food Products Containing Genetically Modified Organisms or
Produced from Them and Put into Trade (No. 468, May 13, 2009); and
"On Approval of the Procedure of Issuing Permits on transit of
Genetically Modified Organisms that Have Not Been Registered in
Ukraine" (No. 423, April 28, 2009). There have been other minor
regulatory actions as well such as the Nov. 18 regulation on costs
for GM testing related to field trials.

9. (U) On July 1, 2009, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy adopted
regulation No. 458, which gave temporary permission for GMO
herbicide-resistant soybeans to be registered in Ukraine for use in
animal feed.

Public Opinion

10. (U) Public opinion surveys show that Ukrainians are decidedly
negative about GM products. According to an early November
telephone survey of 1000 respondents, 74.7% expressed their resolve
never to purchase products containing GM materials, even if it meant
paying more. 93.4% believed that labeling of GMO products should be
mandatory, though only 38% of respondents knew that the GOU had
already passed a resolution on such a requirement. 89.7% of the
survey respondents believe that parliament should enact legislation
to ban both the import and domestic production of GM products.
Ukrainian media outlets published these survey results on November
16, shortly after Draft Laws 5286 and 5286-1 were submitted to the
Verkhovna Rada.


11. (U) The overwhelmingly negative opinions expressed in the survey
mirror the mindset behind Draft Laws 5286 and 5286-1. While the
scientific basis underlying the proposals in the legislation may be
murky and the likelihood of a negative impact on trade and
agriculture is high, parliamentary deputies will undoubtedly factor
in the "will of the people" when considering their positions. It is
possible that the proposed bans are a preemptive step in reaction to
Ukraine's nascent biotechnology regulatory system, which only
requires the adoption of a few bylaws by the parliament to allow GM
products and crops to be registered. Some may be betting that it
would be easier to stop progress on GM authorization now than to
dismantle a regulatory structure already in place. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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