Business Today

Policy Vacuum

Lack of timely decisions and delay in putting in regulatory safeguards may turn India into a GM food junkyard.
twitter-logo Joe C Mathew   New Delhi     Print Edition: August 26, 2018
Policy Vacuum

Is India already consuming food items that include Genetically Modified crop ingredients? A recent study by public advocacy organisation Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) suggests that GM crop ingredients are already part of India's food chain.

Of 65 imported and domestically produced or processed food samples that CSE tested, 46 per cent of imported food products that were made of, or used soya, corn, or rapeseed, tested positive for the presence of GM DNA. About 17 per cent of samples that were produced in India tested positive for GM cottonseed oil. The imported products - oils, packaged food, infant foods, and protein supplements - came from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Thailand, and UAE. In India, GM Bt cotton is the only crop approved for commercial cultivation. Though unregulated sale of GM food is illegal here, CSE found that this didnt prevent their entry into the country.

With the kind of bilateral and multilateral global trade India is trying to promote, it might be unrealistic to even think that India will have the policy space to be GM-free in the real sense.

That leaves us with some urgent unfinished tasks. Generating country specific data to prove or disprove its merits or de-merits is one; introducing a proper, mandatory labelling system and strict monitoring of its implementation is another. Future policy decisions on GM foods and GM crops should be evidence based. This is a race against time.

@joecmathew

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