According to a federal program announced in 2019, some gene-edited crops will be exempt from a 2016 law that banned the cultivation of genetically engineered organisms except for research purposes. The decree establishing the program describes gene editing as equivalent to conventional breeding methods, the view adopted by most of the world except for the European Union. The decree lists four crops — barley, sugar beet, wheat and potatoes — as priorities for development. The federal program aims to create 10 new varieties of gene-edited crops and animals by 2020 and another 20 by 2027.
Plants developed through biotechnology are regulated by three organizations: The Federal Service for Surveillance of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) is responsible for developing legislation on genetically engineered food products and monitoring the influence of genetically engineered crops and products on people and the environment; The Ministry of Agriculture develops policy for the use of genetically engineered crops and organisms in agriculture; The Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (VPSS) is responsible for overseeing genetically engineered crops for feed.
Russia is part of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The EAEU developed technical regulations that require marking the presence of GMOs on labels and informing consumers in cases when food products are processed with the use of a GMO. The technical regulations are mandatory for all members of the EAEU.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has its own Working Group on Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology, but there has been no progress in addressing issues around gene editing in many major food-producing countries, including Russia.
- Disease-resistant potato and sugar beet: Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) institutes are developing disease-resistant varieties of potatoes and sugar beet.
- Barley and wheat research: The Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry and the RAS Institute of Cytology and Genetics is using gene editing to study how to make barley and wheat easier to process and more nutritious.
2020: Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin signs new Food Security Doctrine, which bans import and distribution of genetically engineered organisms for planting, and prohibits raising and breeding animals whose genetic code has been engineered. The only exception to the ban is the import and planting/breeding of genetically engineered organisms for research purposes.
2019: Federal gene editing program established to create 10 new varieties of gene-edited crops and animals by 2020 and another 20 by 2027 and estimated to cost 111-billion-rouble (US$1.7-billion). The decree announcing the program describes gene editing technologies as equivalent to conventional breeding methods.
2018: Ministry of Agriculture publishes first draft of a set of proposed guidelines for the required safety assessments and testing of genetically engineered ingredients for feeds, feed additives, veterinary pharmaceuticals, genetically engineered animals, and genetically engineered microorganisms.
2017: Russian Federation issues Resolution No. 770, On Amending the Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 839, implementing Federal Law No 358, which bans cultivation of genetically engineered plants and amends Russia’s framework of rules for the registration of genetically engineered plants and products.
2016: Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin signs Federal Law No. 358-Z that bans cultivation of genetically modified plants, except for the cultivation of plants for research purposes. It also bans imports of genetically engineered seeds, except for research purposes. The law formalizes the previous de-facto ban resulting from the lack of a regulatory framework. It defines GMOs as those with gene modifications “that cannot result from natural processes.” The regulation is unclear about whether gene-edited plants are included in the ban.
2013: Adopts Resolution 839, On development of a mechanism for the registration of GE crops for cultivation.
2013: The technical regulations adopted by the EAEU come into force. The regulations require marking the presence of GMOs on labels and informing consumers in cases when food products are processed from or with the use of a genetically modified product.
2011: Adopts Technical Regulation No 021/2011 on Safety of Food Products. Food products can be processed only from GMOs registered in the EAEU. The use of GMOs in baby food and in food for pregnant and nursing women is not allowed.
2011: Adopts Technical Regulation No 022/2011 on Food Labeling, which requires that GMO food products be labeled.
2011: Adopts Technical Regulation No 015/2011 on the Safety of Grain.
2011: Adopts Technical Regulation No. 024/2011 on Fat and Oil Products, which requires labeling of GMO oil and fat products.
2011: Adopts Technical Regulation No 023/2011 On Fruit and Vegetable Juices and Their Products, which bans the use of GMOs in baby food and requires registration of any product produced using genetic modification.
2002: Adopts Federal Law No. 7-FZ, On Protection of the Environment.
2000: Adopts Federal Law No. 29-FZ, On the Quality and Safety of Food Products.
1997: Adopts Federal Law No. 149-FZ, On Seed Industry,.
1996: Adopts Federal Law No. 86-FZ, On the State Regulation in the Sphere of Genetic Engineering Activities. The foundational federal law on genetic engineering in Russia establishes state control over the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment and monitoring of effects on the environment and on human health.
NGOs, including Greenpeace Russia and the Alliance of the Commonwealth of Independent States for Biosafety, campaign against agricultural genetic engineering, including gene editing, in an attempt to influence consumer choices. According to Russia Today, about 80 percent of Russians opposes legalization of GMOs. As of 2017, over ten years, the proportion of food with genetically modified ingredients declined from 12% to just 0.01%.