10 February 2014, 11:59

Russian ecologists demand control over GMO foods import, push for moratorium

Arkady Dvorkovich

Arkady Dvorkovich

Arkady Dvorkovich

Russian ecologists are calling for a ban on GMO crops in Russia but fear that their calls may go unheeded despite assurances by top officials. At a recent Cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich proposed to ban crops containing genetically modified organisms.

"Unfortunately, Russian officials’ statements do not always lead to concrete steps. We, on our part, will continue to press for a GMO crops moratorium in Russia," a source in the National Association for Genetic Security (NAGS) campaigning against GMO told reporters.

Speaking about the need for tighter control over the import of GM lines, which was also mentioned by Dvorkovich, the source said that there was virtually no control and that dozens of genetically modified products were already being imported into Russia.

"About two dozen GM lines are imported officially and used in the food industry. It should be borne in mind that their turnover also needs to be controlled," the source said.

While the safety of GMO foods for humans and animals is yet to be proven, some experiments suggest that they may, after all, be dangerous to human health.

"During a research experiment performed in cooperation with the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences, we failed to obtain the third generation of laboratory animals fed on GMOs. This shows that there are definite risks to livestock," the source said.

The NAGS is ready to do expert analysis for the Agriculture Ministry.

Dvorkovich backed the GMO crops ban.

"I support a ban on the cultivation of GMO crops in Russia. We must not allow that to happen," he said at a government meeting on February 6.

As for GMO fodder imports, it’s a "separate issue", Dvorkovich said. "We can either ban them straight away or introduce a transitional period".

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev remarked that no database had been formed so far, and therefore it was hard to judge what was really happening.

"You mentioned crops. I won’t be surprised if we already have such crops," the premier said. He instructed the Agriculture Ministry and related agencies to create a research base so that "we could understand what is imported, what’s been planted and what’s being produced".

The Agriculture Ministry favors a conservative policy towards GMO food.

Voice of Russia, Interfax

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