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3-Food: Indian sugar industry opposes GE sugar cane

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TITLE:  Sugar Mills' Association Opposes GM Sugarcane
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashok B Sharma
DATE:   Jun 29, 2003

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Sugar Mills' Association Opposes GM Sugarcane 

The Indian sugar industry is of the opinion that the country should not
grow any genetically modified (GM) sugarcane, if it has to boost its
exports. The dosmestic industry has also estimated a growing demand for
raw sugar in the global market and has, therefore, demanded that the
government render support and assistance to encourage production of raw sugar.

Speaking to FE, the director-general of Indian Sugar Mills Association
(ISMA), SL Jain said "planting of GM sugarcane should be avoided in the
country as many importing countries have started rejecting GM foods. We
are trying to tap new markets in Japan and Japanese importers have
specifically told us that they would import sugar from India only if we
can assure them that sugar produced in the country are from non-GM canes."

Mr Jain further said that a Japanese industry delegation led Mr Osamu
Kmikawa of Mitsui & Co and Katswa Fukuda of Mitsubishi Research Institute
is visting India on July 8, this year, to find out whether any GM canes
are being grown in the country. He said that Japan currently imports
about 1.5 million tonne of raw sugar every year from different countries
baring India. He said that the news of India allowing commercial
cultivation of Bt cotton and planning to release other GM food crops, has
drawn the attention of many importing countries which are averse to GM
foods. He said that we must be very particular on this issue if we are to
sustain our exports and food security.

"The European Union imports 10,000 tonne of raw sugar from India through
tariff rate quota (TRQ) regime and if we go for cultivation of GM canes
this market would also be disturbed. The European consumers are severely
against consumption of GM foods," he said and added that efforts are on
to see that EU gives more market access to Indian sugar. Mr Jain,
however, complained that 40 per cent of the global exports of white sugar
are being controlled by EU through domestic support regime. He said that
the cost of sugar production in EU is about $ 800 per tonne, but they are
able to sell their produce in the world market at about $ 200 per tonne.
This is due to the governments in the EU keeping the domestic market
prices as high as $ 1000 to $ 1100 a tonne. This high realisation from
domestic market helps the industry to cross subsidise for exports, he said.

He said that the governments in the EU announces market intervention
prices for beet crop to help the growers. This market intervention prices
ranges between 350 pound to 400 pound per tonne.

Mr Jain said that the EU has Mauritius allowed to export 0.5 million
tonne of raw sugar through TRQs, while it imports only 10,000 tonne from
a major producer like India. He said that the sugar industry consortium
of 10 countries, Global Alliance for Sugar Trade and Reforms (GASTR) has
been urging EU to open up its market to other countries. The EU has
imposed a tariff barrier of 400 per cent. India, Brazil, Australia,
Thailand, South Africa, Canada, Guatemela, Hondurus, Columbia and
Indonesia are founding members of GASTR. Brazil, Australia and Thailand
have already filed a complaint in WTO alleging that the EU is not opening
up its markets.

Mr Jain said that the net sugar export in global market is about 38
million tonne, out of about 25 million tonne is raw sugar. He said that
raw sugar is in great demand in global trade and production of raw sugar
should be encouraged in the country and the government should render
necessary support and assistance, which are compatable to WTO agreements.

He said that this year India's sugar exports would be around 1.6 million
tonne as the major market, Bangladesh has virtually stopped importing and
Indonesia has placed strict regulations on imports. The international
trading houses which have become bondholders and managers of warehouses
in Sri Lanka are not inclined to import sugar from India in large
quantities. He said that early in February this year, attempts were
initiated by the Indian industry to penetrate markets in China. The
industry has drawn up a long-term plan for exports to China.


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