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France + Russia Ban GMOs

Russia and France have joined the growing list of European countries crusading against genetically modified (GMO) food and crops.

According to RT, Russia is stamping out any GMOs in its entire food production.

“As far as genetically-modified organisms are concerned, we have made decision not to use any GMO in food productions,” Russia's Deputy PM Arkady Dvorkovich announced at an international conference on biotechnology in the city of Kirov.

Dvorkovich added that there is a clear difference between the use of GMO-products for food versus scientific or medicinal purposes, RT reported.

“This is not a simple issue, we must do very thorough work on division on these spheres and form a legal base on this foundation,” he said.

Russia already has hardline policies against GMOs. In 2012, Russia banned imports of Monsanto's corn after a French study linked the company's GMO-product to tumors in lab rats (the study was later retracted). Last year, the country banned imports of GMO products, with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev saying the nation already has the resources to produce its own non-GMO fare.

"If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” said Medvedev. (And in case you're wondering, Russian president Vladimir Putin is also anti-GMO).

The percentage of GMOs currently present in the Russian food industry is at a mere 0.01 percent, RT observed.

Russia's latest move comes after similar news pouring in from Western Europe in recent weeks.

On Thursday, France followed in the footsteps of other European Union countries—Scotland, Germany, Latvia and Greece—and has chosen the “opt-out” clause of a EU rule passed in March that allows its 28-member bloc to abstain from growing GMO crops, even if they are already authorized to be grown within the union.

Specifically, the country wants to shut out the cultivation of nine GMO maize strains within its borders, according to yesterday's joint statement from Ségolène Royal, France's Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development, and Stéphane Le Foll, the Minister of Agriculture and Energy.

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"It is part of the very important progress made ​​by the new European framework on the implementation of GMO cultivation in which France played a leading role," the statement reads (via translation from Sustainable Pulse). "This directive makes it possible for Member States to request the exclusion of their territorial scope of existing authorizations or of those under consideration.”

France's latest GMO-sweep also singles out Monsanto’s MON 810 maize, the only GMO crop grown in Europe, and is currently under review at the European level, Reuters reported.

France, which is the EU's largest grain grower and exporter, is further cementing its anti-GMO sentiments with this latest move. The country already prohibits the cultivation of any variety of genetically modified maize due to environmental concerns.

Monsanto, which maintains the safety of their products, has said it will abide by the requests from the growing wave of European countries turning their backs on these controversial crops. The agribusiness giant, however, recently accused Latvia and Greece of ignoring science and refusing GMOs out of “arbitrary political grounds.”

In a statement, Monsanto said that the move from the two countries “contradicts and undermines the scientific consensus on the safety of MON810.”

Meanwhile, much-maligned company didn't have a total loss this week. According to Politico EU, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety—a key committee in the European Parliament—"rejected a proposal Tuesday to halt an extension in the use of the world’s most popular weedkiller," aka Roundup, Monsanto's flagship herbicide.

Politico EU added in its report: "Sales of the herbicide, which is contained in 750 products, must stop in December if not given re-authorization. The Commission proposes to extend marketing to June of next year."

Roundup contains an active ingredient called glyphosate which the World Health Organization’s cancer arm famously classified as a possible carcinogen.

Despite the health concerns of the product, a Commission spokesman defended the decision. “Extending the approval period by six months will give EFSA [the European Food Safety Agency] time to finalize its scientific conclusions on glyphosate,” Enrico Brivio said in a statement.

“On the renewal of the authorization, the Commission, in consultation with Member States, will take appropriate risk management action following the publication of the EFSA opinion,” he added.

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