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Russian senators seek ban on GMO-containing foodstuffs

Legislators say 60% of Russians are wary of GMOs

MOSCOW, February 26. /ITAR-TASS/. A draft law banning the turnover of GMO-containing foodstuffs in Russia, where a formal ban on growing genetically modified crops is in place only in 14 regions, has been submitted to the State Duma lower house of parliament.

Amendments to the federal law "On Quality and Safety of Alimentary Products" were offered by upper house’s committees for economic policy, food policy and wildlife management.

Senator Anton Belyakov, one of the authors of the bill, said it had been “drafted on the basis of analysis of international environmental law, as well as the main principles of agrarian and environmental law of the European Union”.

The explanatory note to the document said 174 GMO-free zones were in place in the European Union, with Austria, Greece, Poland and Switzerland completely free of genetically modified organisms, while as for Russia, GMO-containing products were formally banned only in 14 regions.

Legislators say citing opinion polls that 60% of Russians are wary of GMOs. “Time has come to form the legal framework aimed at having tighter control over GMOs as well as a total ban on imports of such products in Russia”.

The total ban on the use of transgenes in Russia would be imposed for an indefinite time, the bill says. “A full ban on the use of transgenes in Russia is necessary for a certain period of time until a system of control will be created to assess the safety of each food product according to different criteria,” Belyakov explained. “Russia must use its chance to become a world producer of ecological food, the demand for which is growing day by day,” the senator said.

Meanwhile, the Russian government is tightening control over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agricultural products, following instructions by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the Agricultural Ministry, the Rospotrebnadzor consumer rights watchdog and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

At a session on February 6, the prime minister instructed these agencies to “take measures to update the system of control over GMOs in agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs with taking into account best international practices” and report to the government before May 25.