by Jeff Clemetson, Editor
The Russians may have lost the Cold War, but when it comes to food safety, they have us beat by a mile. Last week, Russia announced that it would suspend the import and sale of GMO crops after a French study showed rats who ate GMO corn had an increased risk of developing tumors. The Russian consumer-rights regulator Rospotrebndzor asked to have the French study reviewed by scientists at the country’s Institute of Nutrition, but took no chances with the the Russian people’s health by postponing the ban.
The French study, which was conducted at the University of Caen, showed that rats that were fed GMO corn over a two year period developed tumors and other diseases at a much higher rate than those that were fed natural corn. One of the most common ailments the rats fed GMO corn developed were tumors in the mammary glands, pointing to a possible cause for breast cancer in women.
Monsanto’s reaction to the French study and to Russia’s ban on GMO crops was predictable, issuing a statement saying the study “doesn’t meet minimum acceptable standards for this type of scientific research” and downplaying the impact that Russia’s ban of their products will have on their bottom line. “Russia is a net exporter of grain, so the actual impact of their temporary suspension, if any, is likely to be small,” said Monsanto’s spokesman in a statement.
Although Monsanto seems confident that Russia will come crawling back to their GMO trough, there are some major concerns for the company that the ban has brought. As a follow up to the French study, the Russians are planning their own experiments with GMO corn on rats – and theirs will be publicly broadcasted. Web cameras will be installed in the rat cages and every aspect of the experiments will be filmed so that the public can judge whether or not the experiment meets “minimum acceptable standards” of research as Monsanto’s spokesperson so rudely refered to the scientific study performed at one of France’s most prestigious universities. Once the Russian study is done and the people of the world can see for themselves the effects of eating GMO foods, there will be no way for companies like Monsanto to play the their-science-is-bunk card anymore.
Russia is not the first country to ban GMO foods and crops – and its in-public GMO experiment will likely mean it won’t be the last. Countries from around the world have stood up to GMO foods and companies like Monsanto who have tried to force their patented seeds on farmers. France recently upheld a ban on GMO foods and crops, despite a ruling by the European Union that overturned a previous ban. The French ignored the EU ruling by simply writing a new law banning GMOs, knowing that it will take the EU years to overturn the ban in the French legal system.
Other countries that have banned all or some GMO foods or crops include: Algeria, Egypt, Sri Lanka, The European Union, Norway, Austria, Germany, The United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal, Brazil, Paraguay and Saudi Arabia. There are also parts of the United States that have bans or moratoriums on the use of certain GMOs. Maryland has banned genetically engineered fish. North Dakota and Montana have banned GMO wheat. And this November, voters in California will have the chance to finally force food companies who use GMOs in their products to label them when they do. GMO labeling is common the European countries that don’t have an outright ban of GMO products and studies have shown that consumers more frequently choose natural products when given a clear choice between GMO and non-GMO foods.