- President Vladimir Putin passed a law labelling anyone involved in GMO foods a terrorist
- Russia banned GMOs to distinguish itself from the United States categorically
- Putin believes many world leaders copy United States policies regardless of how such policies affect their people and economies
- Critics believe African leaders should follow suit to ban GMO foods
- GMO foods dependency will lead to higher levels of imperialism and colonialism
President Vladimir Putin has made daily headlines since 24 February 2022, when he ordered Russian forces to invade Ukraine in an escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014.
During the period, critics and political observers alike have come to experience first-hand how resilient the Russian president can be. There is no doubt that there are many lessons world leaders can learn from the war and the alliances that have been formed globally as a result.
On their part, African leaders have cleverly watched the proceedings from a distance, especially with the involvement of the United States of America – which is supporting Ukraine in the war. Apart from South Africa publicly declaring its diplomatic neutrality on the matter and refusing to condemn Russia’s actions, many other African countries remain in the valley of indecision.
Despite the pressures and diplomatic sanctions, President Putin remains adamant about withdrawing Russian troops from Ukraine and recently banned Russian politicians from leaving the country without approval from Putin’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
Regardless of their open declarations and press statements, every African leader has a personal opinion on the Russian-Ukrainian war, especially how it relates to the United States. But critics say outside the war; there is something African leaders must learn from Vladimir Putin.
What Must African Leaders Learn from Vladimir Putin?
According to critics, if there is anything to learn from Putin, he always determines to put his country first and protect it from ill Western influences. Many argue that this is one aspect in which many African leaders have failed the continent, especially recently.
Since 2016, President Putin has completely banned Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods. The Russian president condemned the actions of leaders who embraced the United States-approved GMO without careful consideration.
Many activists and critics say African leaders should follow in Mr Putin’s footsteps to end GMO foods in Africa, as it will do more harm than good to Africa and Africans. In his statement, President Putin clearly stated that one of the reasons for banning GMO foods is to distinguish itself from the United States categorically and put the lives of Russians first at all times.
Critics argue that this is a good point.
Russia’s New Law on Full Ban on Food with GMOs
Global headlines announced the Law passed by President Putin equating individuals or organizations involved in GMO foods in Russia as terrorists. But very few went on to explain the reasons behind the decision.
The new Law imposes a ban on foodstuffs produced using genetically modified plants or animals. As stated in the new Law, the legislation “strengthens measures aimed at monitoring of all types of activities associated with GMOs, preventing release of GMOs into the environment, and ameliorating the consequences if such a release occurs.”
Among the federal laws amended by the new Law are the Law on Seed Production and the Environmental Protection Law. Provisions prohibiting “any use of seeds derived from through genetic modification, including those that cannot reproduce or transfer inherited genetic material,” and “reproduction of animals whose genetic program has been changed by using genetic engineering methods” were added to these acts.
The only exemption is made for experimental research work. The ban received expressions of support and approval from the legislative assemblies of eight Russian provinces.
However, advocates of the ban claim that implementation of this legislation will allow Russia to produce the cleanest agricultural products in the world, while its opponents state that this ban favours the current Russian agricultural lobby, which is not interested in the development of new technologies and is afraid of competition in world markets.
What are GMO Foods and Why Africa Should Be Concerned
GMO foods refer to foods that contain ingredients made from genetically modified plants or animals. They are also known as genetically engineered foods or bioengineered foods and are foods produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering.
According to Zachary Makanya, Country Coordinator – PELUM Kenya, Africa is in danger of becoming the dumping ground for the struggling GM industry and the laboratory for frustrated scientists. The proponents of GMO technology sell a sweet message of GMO crops bringing the second green revolution and the answer to African hunger. Still, a closer look clarifies that GMO crops have no place in African agriculture.
Among many issues, including grave health concerns, he says that GMO adoption will foster dependence on a corporate seed supply that the West is positioning itself to become.
GMO crops threaten organic farming, which African farmers practice by default. With seeds and crops generated from genetic engineering, the continent will have to depend on foreign companies to provide the seeds and technical knowledge for the cultivation and processing of these crops, which will lead to a higher level of imperialism and colonialism.
Conclusion: Not just the GMO Bill, But the Independence
For many social observers, it goes more than a GMO bill. They argue that African leaders need to emulate the independence of Vladimir Putin and make vital decisions that will favour the continent.
They say the current crop of leaders in the continent have done an injustice to the legacy and sacrifice of African independence heroes and founding fathers.
Going by the agricultural potentials in the continent, critics argue that Africa has no business processing GMO foods and that following in the footsteps of Putin to ban GMO foods would make the continent one of the largest GMO-free territories and offers an excellent platform for developing organic agriculture.
Do you agree?