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Economy

Russia bans Monsanto maize after French cancer study

media An anti-GM campaigner in California Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Russia has suspended imports of genetically modified maize produced by US agribusiness giant Monsanto after a French study found tumours the size of ping-pong balls on rats that had been eating the corn.

Moscow has temporarily suspended the import of Monsanto’s NK603 maize, which is engineered to withstand a weedkiller the company produces, and the country’s consumer watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, has asked scientists and the Insitute of Nutrition to review the study, the website of the government-funded RT television channel reports.

The watchdog has also asked European Commission’s Directorate General for Health & Consumers to explain the EU’s position on GM corn, it says.

The report by French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini linked NK603 and the Roundup weedkiller to cancer after testing rats over two years.

Some scientists have criticised the study but the French government has renewed its ban on GM maize and asked the European Union to look into the question.

Monsanto claims that the study “doesn’t meet minimum acceptable standards for this type of scientific research” and says that the Russian ban will do no serious harm to its business.

"Russia is a net exporter of grain, so the actual impact of their temporary suspension, if any, is likely to be small," a statement said.

In the US, where GMOs are widespread, Californian activists are campaigning for Proposition 37, which would require the labelling of genetically modified foods.

Monsanto has invested 4.2 million dollars (3.3 million euros) in lobbying against the move.

 

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