Moscow’s ban on imports of US soybeans may have forced Russia to use genetically-modified crops to gain enough oilseeds for its burgeoning livestock industry – at least, according to US officials.
In 2014 Russia banned a swathe of agricultural imports from the US and many other countries, in tit-for-tat sanctions stemming from Western concerns over the Ukraine war. Soybean imports were – until this month – exempted from the curbs – and indeed reached a 45-year high last year.
“Untouched by Russia’s food import embargo, soybeans were the number one US agricultural export to Russia in 2015, reaching nearly $190m, the highest export level since 1970,” the US Department of Agriculture’s bureau in Moscow said, saying the increase reflected expansion in livestock output.
“The growth of US soy exports has been largely attributable to Russia’s efforts to grow its modern poultry and livestock industries,” and reduce its historic dependence on meat imports.