GENET archive


REGULATION / FOOD: GM food set to be labelled before importationinto India

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TITLE:  Genetically modified food set to be labelled before import
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India
AUTHOR: Ashok B. Sharma
DATE:   06.03.2007

Genetically modified food set to be labelled before import

NEW DELHI, MAR 6:  The health ministry is set to amend the Prevention of
Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 to introduce the provision of mandatory
labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods, likely to be imported or
produced in the country.

An expert committee set up by the ministry under the chairmanship of the
additional director-general of the National Institute of Communicable
Diseases, Shiv Lal has recommended mandatory labelling of GM food and
food ingredients, without any threshold limit. The committee has defined
GM food as those composed of or containing genetically organisms
obtained through modern biotechnology. Even the GM processed food would
be labelled. The expert panel included representatives from the
industry, Indian Council for Medical Research and farmer leader Yudhvir Singh.

The move has been initiated to fulfill the provisions of the foreign
trade policy 2006, which said that all imported GM products should be
labelled. If the consignment does not contain such a label and is later
found to contain traces of GM material, the importer is liable for penal
action under the Foreign Trade (Development & Regulation) Act, 1992.

Since the formulation of the policy in 2006, the regulator, genetic
engineering approval committee (GEAC), was in a fix to regulate the
imports of GM soybean oil. GEAC was awaiting the guidelines being framed
by the health ministry. Since the work of the health ministry was
delayed, the commerce ministry deferred the implementation of foreign
trade policy norms.

So far, no GM food product has been approved for consumption in the
country. Bt cotton is the only non-food GM crop to be approved. GEAC is
the sole regulator for production, transportation, distribution, import
and export of all GM products.

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                                  PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Soyabean oil traders demand bypass for GM food imports
SOURCE: The Economic Times, India
AUTHOR: Deepa Krishnan
DATE:   27.02.2007

Soyabean oil traders demand bypass for GM food imports

MUMBAI: The Centre's bid to keep a check on the imports of genetically
modified (GM) foods into India is posing problems for soyabean oil
importers. The government's rule (dated April7, 2006) that importers of
GM soyabean oil will have to obtain prior clearance from the Genetic
Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) constituted under the Environment
Protection Act, 1986, was deferred twice in 2006. It is once again up
for expiry on March 31.

Importing from the largest producers of soyabean, Argentina and Brazil,
requires that the contracts are entered into at least two to three
months ahead inclusive of shipping time. Soyabean refiners in India are
seeking a one-time approval certificate allowing imports of GM soyabean
oil, or extension of the deadline to comply to prior approval of imports.

The Solvent Extractors Association of India has made a representation to
GEAC regarding the same. The lack of any clear regulation in this regard
is deterring imports of GM soya oil, and could lead to a shortage in
April as no new contracts are being entered into after February due to
the uncertainty.

When contacted, executive director, SEA, BV Mehta confirmed that a
representation to review the matter has been made to GEAC. Officials of
GEAC refused to comment on the issue.

More than two-third of India's soyabean oil requirement is met through
imports. It is a matter of concern as most of this degummed soyabean oil
is crushed out of GM soyabean and comes from Argentina and Brazil. All
the soyabean and soyabean oil produced in India are non-GM.

India's production of soyabean oil is about 11 lakh tonne, while we
import between 18 lakh and 20 lakh tonne. In order to consider a one-
time approval vis-a-vis imports of GM soyabean oil, the industry has
been asked to obtain test results on a number of parameters from any of
three laboratories, Central Food Technological Research Institute
(CFTRI), Mysore, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad and
Shriram Institute of Industrial Research. However, some of these labs
were unable to undertake testing of certain parameters, industry sources
pointed out.

An official from an prominent multi-national company said, "The GEAC
continued to add new specifications like conformity with Prevention of
Food Adulteration Act, gyphosate residues in the oil and residues of refining.

But even as all the prescribed requirements had been fulfilled, the GEAC
has requested that the testing process be re-started and has prescribed
that CFTRI to undertake all the tests. This will take considerable
amount of time." The samples have been despatched to CFTRI in January.

As per the existing regulation, imports of soyabean oil from April 1'07
onwards will require GEAC's prior approval. This would imply a delay as
no new contracts are being booked. This could lead to a subsequent price
rise. A similar situation occurred prior to July '06 when the
notification of relaxation of imports of soyabean oil was to expire on
July 4, '06.

This led to a serious price rise July onwards, following which an
extension on soyabean oil imports was given until March 31, '07. In the
two weeks until the notification for deference came out, the prices
jumped by over $30 per tonne. The average price of soyabean oil in June
'06 was $521 per tonne, and moved up to $552 per tonne in July.

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