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The New Plant Quarantine Law: Possible Consequences

Delovoy Peterburg published an article devoted to the new version of the draft law issued by the Ministry of Agriculture regarding plant quarantine. The discrepancies in this regulatory act threaten to put major agricultural holdings of the country, including ECO-Culture, at risk. The authors of the article have asked the opinion of experts and employees of the leading greenhouse enterprises in the country about the possible consequences of these amendments.

The problem is, the new wording of the law relating to a concept of a “quarantine object” can be difficult to understand and therefore leaves room for a variety of interpretations. Once translated from “legal language” into “human”, the new law grants Rosselkhoznadzor the right to inspect domestic enterprises not only for potentially harmful organisms (insects, fungi, plant pathogens) banned in Russia but also for objects recognized as such in other countries (possible importers). This in practice is fraught with the introduction of quarantine in the greenhouse complex upon any suspicion of the presence of organisms that have been declared as dubious by someone and somewhere.

For the record, a “quarantine object” does not necessarily mean dangerous. There are species of insects and microorganisms that are considered as quarantine while not posing a threat to human health. One example of this is the California thrips. Although this insect has quarantine status, it has been living in Russia since the 1990s and in no way threatens either people or the environment.

After the new wording of the legislative act is introduced, any greenhouse complexes may be exposed to risk. According to Svetlana Zudilova, the Chief Agronomist of ECO-Culture holding, the existing list of quarantine pests requires significant reduction even without the new amendments. Should any of these organisms be detected during an inspection, serious sanctions could be imposed on the entire complex, up to and including a complete shutdown. Disrupting the cycle, however, would mean huge losses for the greenhouses.

In addition, according to Svetlana Zudilova, the whole batch of products suspected of having quarantine objects will have to be destroyed. As for the rest of the vegetables from the same greenhouse, it will require a special certificate for those to be released on the market.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that right now there is no way for agricultural enterprises to challenge the findings made by Rosselkhoznadzor. Even though the new law implies that plant samples are to be submitted to independent laboratories for testing, all such institutions are de-facto subordinated to the Phytosanitary Service.

The producers believe that the development of agriculture in the country requires the government to create laws aimed at supporting domestic suppliers, not vice versa. In reality, however, the new formulations and amendments only hinder the industry’s ability to grow.

For the full text of the article please visit Delovoy Peterburg’s official website.