Russia’s consumer-rights regulator Rospotrebnadzor asked scientists at the country’s Institute of Nutrition to review the provocative study after it caused large scale debate among experts and consumers last week.
The study (previously reported here) claimed that rats fed with Monsanto's genetically modified NK603 corn over a two-year period, were at significantly higher risk of developing cancers and experiencing early death than a control group fed non-GM corn. Following the study, environmental charity Friends of the Earth and the French government to call on the European Union to ban the GM product, with France adding that it will uphold its current ban on GM crops in the country (reported here).
However, until now, no other national authorities had taken action to ban the products.
The Russian watchdog said it has also contacted to European Commission’s Directorate General for Health & Consumers to explain the EU’s position on GM corn.
Monsanto said the Russian ban will have little effect on its business because the country imports only small volumes of maize and does not permit the cultivation of GM crops by its farmers.
"Russia is a net exporter of grain, so the actual impact of their temporary suspension, if any, is likely to be small," the spokesman said in a statement.
Reacting to the calls for a European ban, Commission spokesman on health and consumer issues, Frédéric Vincent said the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) would examine the new study in detail:
“If it will be ascertained that the study indeed has scientific groudings, the Commission will draw the consequences,” he said.
The findings of EFSAs preliminary review into the controversial study are due next week.