Russia should stay GM free - International syposium (8/12/2004)

News from CIS Environment
SEU TIMES, December 7, 2004
published by Socio-Ecological Union

The International Symposium Transgenic Plants and Biosafety has just been over in Moscow

Moscow, November 30 - December 3. The International Symposium Transgenic Plants and Biosafety was held in Moscow, Russia. In fact it was a first time when NGOs and scientists discussed biosafety issues together since a broad debate on GMOs started in Russia 8 years ago.

The meeting was organized by the Institute of Plant Physiology of the Russian Academy of Science in collaboration with the whole range of scientific and public organizations of Russia and CIS.

The representatives of 15 biological institutes of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS), researchers from the Russian Academy of Agricultural Science, from Russian Academy of Medical Science, from the Ministry of Health, from Moscow State University and from the other universities, institutions of Norway, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Moldova and Tadjikistan took part in the symposium.

Activists and experts of more than 10 lead NGOs of Russia and CIS contributed to the symposium work as well. Among those were CIS Biosafety Alliance, Center for Ecological Policy of Russia, International Socio-Ecological Union, All-National Association for Genetic Safety (Russia), Russian Regional Environmental Center, Zelenyi Svit (Ukraine), Eco-Tiras (Moldova), Eremurus Club (Russia).

'The technology of obtaining GMOs is not yet perfect, scientific knowledge about plant's genome is extremely poor. Facts of existing risks performed by GMOs, reported at our symposium is the evidence of current scientific uncertainty. It is absolutely obvious that a long-term research aimed to prove GMOs' biosafety must PRECEDE their commercialization if any', emphasized Professor Vladimir Kuznetsov, Director of the Institute of Plants Physiology of RAS in his finale speech at the symposium closing.

It was stressed at the Symposium that the issue of biosafety and GMOs has exceeded the limits of pure science. GM-plants are grown in many countries, food containing GMOs is already a part of daily ration of millions of people. 'In such a situation we all participate in a global experiment and should collectively decide what to do with all this', stated Victoria Kolesnikova, secretary of CIS Biosafety Alliance.

No one mentioned during the meeting that there was a need to ban genetic engineering as it is. It was said that genetic engineering had a great potential for fundamental research of plant's DNA, etc. Talking about GM agricultural varieties and their use, the majority of speakers brought their voices for the necessity of financial support of fundamental biosafety researches in this sphere. The task of those researches shall be justification of safety and need of GMOs' introduction. And such researches should be carried out under strict public control.

In the resolution - which will be passed to the President Putin, governmental and legislative institutions this week - the following conclusions are drawn:

1. Researches on GMOs' biosafety and the safety of food derived from GMOs must precede their commercial use.

2. Studies of GMOs' biosafety and the safety of GM-food require complex fundamental and applied research to be done and financial support to be provided by the state.

3. There is a need of further development and drafting of legislation aimed to GMOs and GM-food flows regulation. And it is also important to harmonize Russian laws with EU legislation as it is a necessary condition of equitable trade between Russia and Western European countries.

4. Russia should join Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which regulates flows of LMOs in global scale.

5. There is a need to create an efficient state system of control over GMO content in food that should be free from the influence of GMOs producers. This should be done in the interests of ecological safety and national health.

6. There is a great need to adopt an international pact to stop spreading of GM-plants to all areas that remain GMO-free, including Russia, until real or potential biological safety of GMOs for humans and environment is proven.

For further information:

Victoria Kolesnikova
Steering Committee of the Symposium,
Secretary of the CIS Biosafety Alliance
Moscow, Russia
Cell: +7-910-423-88-54
Office: +7-095-308-89-33
E-mail: [email protected]

SEU Times issued by: Olga Zakharova [email protected]
ISEU Information Service

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