To Enrich or Not Enrich Wheat Flour?
The Government’s bill on the wheat flour enrichment still fuels hot discussions. The Ministry of Health describes the enrichment of high quality flour with premixes, namely iron and folic acid, as a positive step since it, according to the ministry experts, aims to prevent anemia among certain society groups. Those who oppose the initiative point out the possible danger to people suffering cancer the enrichment may bring about.

In November, Armenia’s government backed the bill as part of the government action plan on enriched wheat flour approved in 2011. UNICEF provides constant support to the program by all necessary equipment for enriching flour, as well as in methodological issues. Parallelly, the Government proposes fines for flour producers who will refuse to enrich their product. If lawmakers adopt the set of amendments, the laws will be enacted in 2016.

Currently, 82 countries in the world have laws regarding enrichment of at least one species of corn.

In cooperation with the Women’s Community Council of Martuni, Media Center held a discussion on the pros and cons of the Armenian Government bill on flour enrichment. The panelists included: Gayane Petrosyan, Institute of Perinatology, Obstetrics and Gynecology; Melita Hakobyan, head of the National Association of Consumers of Armenia; Ashot Karapetyan, biophysics expert; and Anahit Gevorgyan, Head of the Women’s Community Council of Martuni.

Gayane Petrosyan believes as in the entire world, Armenia suffers high prevalence of anemia. “The prevalence rate among pregnant women amounts to 12 percent, with 25 percent among women of reproduction age and 35 among children under 5,” the speaker said.

“Why isn’t pregnancy planned in Armenia?” wondered Melita Hakobyan, disagreeing with the argument that flour enrichment is required for pregnant women. “If it were planned, women would have consulted doctors and taken the required medicine.”

The bill violates the right to information and to choice, Hakobyan and Karapetyan believe. “People do not know what it is all about. They will be stripped of the right to chose as 85 percent of flour is to be enriched, with the other 15 percent being produced by village mills. And as we know, village mills are not presented on the market,” Hakobyan said.

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