At the first Forum of Regions of Russia and Belarus, federation council speaker of the Russian Parliament Valentina Matviyenko said Russia needed to seek a ban on the import of any products containing GM organisms, including food, animal feed and meat.
"Russia should enter a legislative ban on the importation of products with GMO," said Matvienko.
She also noted: "GMO products have a powerful lobby in Russia, which, with reference to the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, opposes any initiatives to restrict GMO."
Valentina Matviyenko expressed concerns about "the aggressive spread of GMO in the world and offered to take the issue to the UN General Assembly", seeking to limit the spread of food containing GM components, at least until tests prove they are safe for consumers.
According to her, in Russia "there is currently not even a law prohibiting the use of GMOs in baby food".
"And, for example, Turkey, also a member of the WTO, has not only banned the imports, but even the transition through the country of GMOs. Even the seeds can not be carried," said Matvienko.
"Obviously, the problem of GMOs is a global problem. In this context, it seems appropriate that the relevant departments prepare and submit to the UN General Assembly a draft resolution on the establishment of a joint FAO and WHO expert working group, to make recommendations on the use of new GM food sources, as well as conduct a careful study of their long-term impact on people’s health," she added.
GMO policy reversal
Russia made a sharp reversal in its policy on the use of GM products at the beginning of this year. Previously it was assumed the country would introduce a system of registration of GMO seeds in July this year, but recently Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who was previously considered by experts as a supporter of GMO, postponed this step for at least three years and criticised the idea of allowing GM products.
At the same time, experts believe the change in policy regarding GMO products could be explained by Russia’s worsening relations with Western countries.
"GMO in Russia is traditionally viewed as the product of a few multinational companies, with major investors in the US and Western Europe. In such a situation and given the current political background, GMO has become even more unpopular than it was among society and among politicians. There is really a great possibility that Russia may ban the import of feedstuffs and meat products that contain GMO," said analysts from Russian agricultural agency Agrorukom.