Report Highlights:

Little has happened in Kazakhstan over the last year with regard to of genetically engineered (GE) products. The Kazakhstan's draft law on "On State Regulation of Genetic Engineering Activities" still has not moved out of the Kazakh Parliament. However, substantial progress has been made in the negotiations for Kazakhstan's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Some sources have maintained that progress on the GE legislation was unlikely until after Kazakhstan's WTO accession.

Executive Summary:

Kazakhstan's draft law on "On State Regulation of Genetic Engineering Activities" remains in the Kazakh Parliament, where it has been since early 2011. Since 2011 it has been under review by the Parliamentary Committee and in not expected to come up for discussion again until February, 2016. Some sources believe that it is unlikely this law will be passed until after Kazakhstan's WTO accession. Without this law in place, development of agricultural biotechnology is unlikely to occur in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan's crop production is dominated by wheat, which makes up nearly two-thirds of all planted area. The Ministry of Agriculture, however, has a strategy of diversifying crop production away from wheat and into more feed grains and oilseeds. Currently, agricultural biotechnology is not part of the Ministry's 7-year Agricultural Plan to 2020. Customs Union (CU) regulations (covering not just Kazakhstan but also Russia, Belarus and Armenia) have recently come into force regulating labeling and imports of GE products. As Kazakhstan continues to integrate into the Customs Union, it is expected that policies and views of the other members states (especially Russia) will play a greater role in regulating biotechnology in Kazakhstan

PLANT AND ANIMAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

Chapter 1: Plant Biotechnology

Part A: Trade and Production:

a. Product Development: Currently, one GE crop development project has been finished in Kazakhstan. The new GE crop development project is for a drought resistant wheat variety, conducted jointly with Australian researchers. This research project was completed in 2014 and developed 21 polyploid wheat lines. Field trials are currently under way.

b. Commercial Production: Kazakhstan does not produce any GE crops, and without the passage of the law "On State Regulation of Genetic Engineering Activities" it is unlikely that substantial development will occur. In the new 7-year agricultural program designed by the Ministry of Agriculture for 2013-2020, there is no mention of GE crops or GE technologies. Area in Kazakhstan planted with genetically engineered (GE) varieties for commercial use is extremely small. The only instance where this occurs is if farmer decides to plant GE crops for his own use.

Kazakhstan crop production is dominated by wheat, which accounts for 64 percent of all field crop area, and 83 percent of all grain area. Crops for which GE varieties exist globally for commercial use are not significant in Kazakhstan, with corn (for grain) area at only 0.5 percent and soybean area at only 0.4 percent of total crop planted area. Rapeseed area has been growing, but remains at only one percent of total planted area. Cotton area is only 0.6 percent of the total, and sugar beet production area is almost non-existent. The Kazakh Government does have a plan to diversify production away from wheat, and this could lead to increases in area to oilseeds and other feed grains.

a. Exports: There is no commercial production of GE crops in Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan does not export any GE crops to the United States or any other countries.

b. Imports: Imports of GE crops or products are allowed into Kazakhstan, but must abide by Customs Union regulations which cover the entire Customs Union of Belarus, Russia, Armenia and Kazakhstan. For instance, the Customs Union Technical Regulation on Grain stipulates that grain/oilseeds (both for food and for feed use) may contain only registered GE lines (registered in accordance with the legislation of the states, members of the CU), and that the GE grain presence of non-registered lines shall not exceed 0.9 percent.

Kazakhstan imports only small amounts of corn or soybeans. However, Kazakhstan does import an average of 10,000 tons of soybean meal each year, mainly from Argentina. In 2014, in addition to 5,189 tons of soybean meal imported from Argentina, Kazakhstan imported 4,034 tons of soybean meal from Ukraine for the first time.

The Kazakh law "On Seeds Farming" specifies that GE seeds for planting can only be imported for testing and research, not for cultivation.

a. Food Aid Recipient Countries: Kazakhstan is not a food aid recipient.

Part B: Policy:

Regulatory Framework: In early 2011, the Kazakh Government drafted a law, "On State Regulation of Genetic Engineering Activities," in order to regulate biotechnology in Kazakhstan. This law remains stalled in the Kazakh Parliament. It was presented by the Ministry of Education and Science to the Socio-Cultural Committee of the Parliament in February, 2011. Since 2011 it has been under review by the Parliamentary Committee and in not expected to come up for discussion again until February, 2016. Some sources believe that it is unlikely this law will be passed until after Kazakhstan's WTO accession. Without this law in place, development of agricultural biotechnology is unlikely to occur in Kazakhstan.

In January 2014, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev instructed the government to adjust the plan for the development of the agro-industrial complex, to permit genetically modified crops. However, implementation of this provision is likely to take an extended period.

This draft law on State regulation of genetic engineering activity specifies separate roles for different government bodies on the regulation of agricultural biotechnology. However, these authorized bodies have not yet been identified. The draft law specifically states:

(Note: All Kazakh legislative and regulatory documents use the term GMO (genetically modified organisms) or GMM (genetically modified microorganisms) instead of genetically engineered (GE) organisms/microorganisms.)

1. The authorized body on health: 1) implements the state policy on genetic engineering activities within its jurisdiction; 2) develops, approves, within its competence, the normative legal acts on genetic engineering; 3) makes within its competence, risk assessment of first-time produced and first-time imported genetically modified organisms (GMOs); 4) runs State Registry of GMOs; 5) makes state registration and re-registration of GMO; 6) approves the form of registration certificate of GMOs; 7) performs other functions stipulated in this Law, other laws, acts of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

2. The authorized body on agriculture: 1) implements the state policy on genetic engineering activities within its jurisdiction; 2) develops, approves, within its competence the normative legal acts on genetic engineering; 3) makes risk assessment within its competence; 4) performs other functions stipulated in this Law, other laws, acts of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

3. The authorized body on environmental protection: 1) implements the state policy on genetic engineering activities within its jurisdiction; 2) develops, approves, within its competence the normative legal acts on genetic engineering; 3) performs other functions stipulated in this Law, other laws, acts of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

According to the draft law the authorized body on genetic engineering issues permits to the following genetic engineering activities: 1) LMOs/GMOs creation and/or testing; 2) LMOs/GMOs use in closed systems; 3) LMOs/GMOs release into environment and use in open system.

With regard to approval timelines, the draft law states that the authorized body on genetic engineering is required to issue decisions and permits to applicants within the following timelines of receiving the necessary documents from the applicant.

1) LMOs/GMOs creation and/or testing – 120 calendar days; 2) LMOs/GMOs use in closed systems – 90 calendar days; 3) LMOs/GMOs release into environment and use in open system – 130 calendar days

If any documentation is missing or incorrect, the applicant must submit it within 45 calendar days.

a. Approvals: The registration of GE lines for the entire Customs Union (Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan) for use in food is done by the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance in the Sphere of Human Rights Protection and Human Well-Being (Rospotrebnadzor).

b. Field Testing: The Kazakh law "On Seeds Farming" theoretically allows GE crops field-testing although the draft law "On State Regulation of Genetic Engineering Activities" sets out the approval process and until it is enacted, it is unlikely any field trials would occur. Currently there are no field trials.

c. Stacked Event Approvals: The draft law on biotechnology does not include any information on stacked events.

d. Additional Requirements: Not applicable

e. Coexistence: The draft law does not specify coexistence rules. However, they can be developed after law is passed.

f. Labeling: Labeling rules are now covered by a Customs Union Technical Regulation on Labeling which came into force on July 1, 2013. This regulation states that all products containing more than 0.9 percent GE-ingredients must be labeled as such. If it contains less than 0.9 percent GE-ingredients then it does not have to be labeled. Also, the regulation states that labeling of food products as non-GE is voluntary.

g. Trade Barriers: All imported GE grains and oilseeds must have their lines registered in the Customs Union prior to importing into Kazakhstan, and the presence of non-registered lines cannot exceed 0.9 percent. Currently, Kazakhstan's imports of U.S. corn and soybeans (and soybean products) are largely non-existent because the GE lines are not yet registered.

In October 2012, Kazakhstan banned the importation of GE-corn NK603, mirroring a temporary restriction imposed in September 2013 by Russia as a result of a published study by a French scientist questioning the safety of that type of GE-corn. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) responded to this published study by stating that it was "of insufficient scientific quality to be considered as valid for risk assessment" and that "such shortcomings mean that EFSA is presently unable to regard the author's conclusions as scientifically sound." Russia removed the ban without any public acknowledgement and Kazakhstan has also not made public if the ban is removed.

a. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): The Kazakh Law "On Selection Achievements Copyright" allows for patents for plant and crop improvements.

b. Cartagena Protocol Ratification: Kazakhstan ratified the Cartagena Protocol in 2008.

c. International Treaties/Fora: After nineteen years, Kazakhstan's negotiations on accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) have concluded at a final Working Party Meeting on June 22.2015. The Working Party will now forward the Accession Package to the General Council for formal adoption by all 161 WTO members. It is expected, that Kazakhstan will be complete WTO membership by the end of 2015.

d. Related Issues: The Ministry of Agriculture has welcomed training and discussions on Agricultural Biotechnology Legislation. However, the development of GE products is not a priority of the Ministry. Some producers, farmer groups, and Ministry officials advocate that Kazakhstan could have a competitive advantage in producing and marketing "ecologically clean" agricultural products for exports, and as a result the country should not develop domestic GE crops.

e. Monitoring and Testing: In 2012, the Ministry of Health reported conducting a series of tests on imported and domestically-produced products for the presence of GMOs. The Ministry of Health reported that 1,939 food samples were studied from 27 countries, including 41 percent of samples from domestic production. Of these tests, six samples tested positive for the presence of GE products. Two samples, of sweet corn from Russia and Hungary, contained a GE presence above 0.9 percent and thus, according to Kazakh regulations, should have been labeled. In four other samples, (sweet corn from Russia, a corn dessert from China, a cake product from Iran, and a sausage product from Russia), detections of GE presence were found within permissible limits of 0.9 percent. No other GE testing has been reported since that time.

f. Low Level Presence Policy: According to Customs Union Regulations, up to 0.9 percent of unapproved GE events are allowed.

Part C: Marketing:

a. Market Acceptance: In Kazakhstan, the general public is apprehensive about purchasing GE

products. However, there seems to be an understanding that due to global trade, it is difficult to be completely isolated from these products. There is some marketing of products as non-GE (especially for items like baby-food) but for the most part, non-GE labeling is not an important marketing strategy.

b. Public/Private Opinion: There is limited active campaigning for or against GE products or production. Since Kazakhstan production of crops for which GE varieties exist is very minor, this issue is not of great importance to farmers groups, the Grain Union, or the Ministry of Agriculture in general.

c. Marketing Studies: No known marketing studies exist on the acceptance of GE plants or products in Kazakhstan.

Part D: Capacity Building:

a. Activities: The United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA) has helped to recruit candidates for two International Visitor Leadership Programs in the United States on Agricultural Biotechnology. The first took place in 2009, and the second took place in 2013.

In November 2012, FAS helped organize a workshop in Astana with Ministry of Agriculture officials on agricultural biotechnology legislation.

Strategies and Needs: Misinformation on GE products is widespread in Kazakhstan. Providing scientific information on the safety of GE products, and the increasing use of GE products throughout the world would better inform the general public.

Chapter 2: Animal Biotechnology

Cloning is an animal biotechnology that developers frequently utilize in conjunction with other animal biotechnologies such as genetic engineering and therefore included in this report.

Part E: Production and Trade

a. Biotechnology Product Development: There are no GE animals or livestock cloning known to be under development in Kazakhstan.

b. Commercial Production: Although the Government has made increased cattle production the top agricultural priority (including turning Kazakhstan into a beef exporter), this strategy includes importing pedigree breeding animals, semen and embryos but does not include any research on GE animals or clones.

c. Biotechnology Exports: Kazakhstan does not export any GE animals or livestock clones.

d. Biotechnology Imports: Kazakhstan does not import any GE animals or livestock clones and there are no restrictions in place.

Part F: Policy

a. Animal biotechnology would be governed by the draft law "On State Regulation of Genetic Engineering Activities", which remains in draft before the Kazakh parliament. The approval process and governing bodies responsible for regulating animal biotechnology are expected to be the same as proposed in the draft law, as it does not differentiate between plant and animal biotechnology. In the draft law it classifies GE as "products of plant and (or) animal and (or) microbial origin, produced using genetic engineering techniques." As a result, when the draft law refers to the process for registering, regulations, and approvals of GMOs, this is understood to include both plant and animals.

b. Labeling and Traceability: Not applicable

c. Trade Barriers: Although Kazakhstan imports U.S. livestock, including U.S. cattle, in substantial quantities, there have never been any GE-related trade barriers.

d. Intellectual Property Rights: Not applicable

e. International Treaties/Fora: Not applicable

Part G: Marketing

a. Market Acceptance: Not applicable

b. Public/Private Opinions: Not applicable

c. Market Studies: There are no known market studies on the marketing of GE animals in Kazakhstan.

Part H: Capacity Building

a. Activities: In March 2014 USDA organized training under Cochran Fellowship program for Kazakhstani group on Livestock Genetics, which included lecture on cloning and genetic illnesses treatment.

Strategies and Needs: Not applicable