On June 19, 2020, during the first plenary session of newly elected members of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, Yelena Sharoikina, the head of the National Association for Genetic Safety, was unanimously elected head of the Commission for Ecology and Environment.
Ms. Sharoikina’s unanimous election not only recognizes her social achievements. When President Vladimir Putin announces an emergency of a federal level due to the country's biggest environmental disaster in Norilsk in the Krasnoyarsk territory, the appointment of this kind is also a great responsibility.
Environmentalists, scientists and politicians know Yelena Sharoikina as a staunch opponent of GMOs, as well as an apologist of strict control over the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Her opponents believe that she played a key role in lobbying for “anti-GMOs” legislation in Russia, actively opposing the bill on the procedure for approval of state registration of GMOs drafted by the Russian officials and published in late 2012. The National Association for Genetic Safety held street pickets with slogans “Against Monsanto!” and “For Russia without GMOs!” In addition, petition to Vladimir Putin was sent.
Together with representatives of other non-profit organizations and experts in the sector of biological and food safety, Ms. Sharoikina challenged this resolution in the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. She demanded canceling Resolution No. 839 and introducing a temporary moratorium on growing transgenic crops in Russia. Eventually, her actions resulted in the environmentalists’ victory. Due to their active position in the summer of 2014, the entry of this resolution into force was postponed for 3 years. In June 2016, the State Duma adopted an “anti-GMOs” law alongside with the Yarovaya law (the bills that amended a pre-existing counter-terrorism law and separate laws regulating additional counter-terror and public safety measures.)
Perhaps these activities led to the fact that in 2016, Yelena Sharoikina was included into the database of Mirotvorets, the Ukrainian Kiev-based extremist website as an alleged “Russian ally of terrorists, banned in Russia.” Apparently, her merits might have been estimated by Monsanto, the American company specializing in GMO developments, or by the American secret services. Ms. Sharoikina actively campaigns against the deployment of their biological laboratories along Russia’s borders.
She became interested in public environmental activities in 2004, when she established the National Association for Genetic Safety. The organization monitors the Russian markets of food and raw materials in the interests of domestic consumers. It won high-profile cases by big businesses, including multinational companies, such as Nestle and Campina, in the Federal Antimonopoly Service and courts of the Russian Federation.
In 2008, with the help of the experts working for the National Association for Genetic Safety, Ms. Sharoikina completed long-term work on setting up the ‘Biologically Safe’ system of voluntary certification. It was registered at the Federal Technical Regulation and Metrology Agency (Rosstandart) and engages in assessments of the quality of food. Ms. Sharoikina was one of the first to start tackling the problem of waste collection. She spent a lot of time to solve the issue of raw materials recycling, at the same time beginning to actively promote it in Russia. In the summer of 2013, Ms. Sharoikina organized Izumrudnaya Planeta [Emerald Planet,] the first eco-race of electric vehicles in Russia. It has become a part of the environmental initiatives of the National Association for Genetic Safety, aimed at promoting the ideas of conscientious use of natural resources, recycling, and the widespread development and implementation of “green technologies.”
At a press conference in London in November 2014, Ms. Sharoikina proclaimed an international campaign against GMOs and the launch of the Factor GMO international project, the largest study on the safety of GMOs and related pesticides. She became its main coordinator bringing together scientists from different countries.
Yelena Sharoikina’s active struggle has also made her popular in the media. She became the prototype of one of the characters of fantastic “eco-bestsellers” Heritage and Heritage 2 written by Sergey Tarmashev. They depict the events that led the planet to an enormous genetic disaster due to the uncontrolled spread of GMOs, as well as the struggle of the protagonists with corrupt world elite to save humanity. In the novels, Yelena is also called “Sharo the Prophet” and “The Great Sharo” for a successful forecast of a global environmental disaster. In addition, the Internet series “Bio Exploration” were also devoted to Ms. Sharoikina's activities as the head of the National Association for Genetic Safety.
Yelena Sharoikina regularly takes on the role of an expert in work groups on environmental and food security issues in the State Duma and relevant Russian ministries and agencies. She takes part in news and analysis programs of federal TV channels, reads original lectures on ecology at various public venues such as Central House of Artists, Krasny Oktyabr film center, the lecture-hall of the Dozhd (TV Rain) TV channel, etc. She is a permanent speaker at environmental forums, conferences and other events in Russia and abroad. Ms. Sharoikina is a strong supporter of the ideas of “deep ecology,” “sustainable development,” “alterglobalism,” as well as social responsibility of states and transnational corporations not only to present, but also to the next generations.
Her strong commitments have brought her not only to the Civic Chamber, but also to the executive position at the Commission for Ecology and Environment just when the environmental disaster in Norilsk made the issues of the responsibility of large businesses for environmental safety in Russia particularly acute.