New Delhi: A large-scale illegal presence and sale of genetically modified (GM) processed foods in the country have been found by a study conducted by New Delhi-based research and advocacy body Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Releasing the results of the study here on Thursday, CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML), which conducted this study, tested 65 food products available in Indian markets – 32 percent of these were found to be GM-positive.
These food products were purchased randomly from retail outlets in Delhi-NCR, Punjab and Gujarat. Both imported (35) and domestically produced (30) samples were tested. The imported samples fared worse as 80 percent of the products which were found to be GM-positive, were imported.
The products which were found to be GM-positive include infant food, edible oil and packaged food snacks. Most of these are imported from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Thailand, and the UAE. These products were produced from or contain soya, cottonseed, corn or rapeseed (canola), which are known GM crops of the world.
In a statement by cseindia.org, CSE Director General Sunita Narain said, “Our government says it has not allowed the import of GM food products. Then how is this happening? We have found that laws are not the problem – the regulatory agencies are.”
Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE, said: “We had been hearing about the presence of illegal GM food in India, and decided to do a reality check by testing processed foods. We were shocked to know the scale by which GM foods have penetrated the Indian market. The regulatory authorities are to blame here – the FSSAIhas not allowed any GM food on paper, but has failed to curb its illegal sales.”
Without the approval of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the production, sale and import of these foods are banned in the country. According to CSE, either the GM labelling isn't there on the food products or false claims or misrepresentation are being made about it. The CSE said that FSSAI has failed to regulate GM food adding that the draft rules of FSSAI are weak on the labelling of GM food and are impractical to implement.