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Draft Regulations on GM Foods Can Endanger Public Health: Food Activists

calendar03 Feb, 2022
timeReading Time: 2 Minutes
Draft Regulation

FSSAI is facing rising opposition from food safety activists pan India over the draft regulation on GM food. According to the activists, the said draft would allow seamless entry of transgenic foods, which allegedly have some severe health consequences. The activists are also demanding the timeline extension for rendering public feedback on the draft regulation for GM food beyond its deadline of Jan 15. GM foods have been extensively criticized nationwide by the coalition and other concerned groups owing to severe health and environmental impacts.

Why Activists are demanding extension of time for securing public feedback on draft regulation?

The draft is open for public feedback until Jan 15, but activists are demanding to extend the said date further. This is due to the unavailability of debate that was supposed to happen recently but canceled due to the soaring Covid-19 cases. In addition to that, activists are also seeking Food authority to make the draft text available in regional languages to gain more feedback.

Draft regulation on Gm foods was introduced by FSSAI on Nov 15, 2021. The same come under the FSS, Act, 2006[1] are applicable to Genetically Modified Organisms, Living Modified Organisms (“LMOs), Genetically Engineered Organisms (“GEOs“), which are aimed to be utilized in the food articles.

Genetically Modified or Engineered Food and Genetically Modified Organism

The term “Genetically Modified or Engineered Food” cited under draft regulation refers to food & related ingredients which are composed of genetically modified organisms obtained via biotechnology.

Whereas the expression “Genetically Modified Organisms” and “Living Modified Organisms” denotes any living organism that has a novel combination of genetic items obtained via the utilization of advanced biotechnology.

Why government is favoring Draft regulations for GM foods?

  • It has been witnessed that the implementation of GM foods has been prevalent in the agriculture regime across various jurisdictions wherein such biotechnology is being utilized in the preparation of modified crops.
  • According to scientific studies, these crops have better yield, improved resiliency to combat diseases, increased tolerance among pesticides and herbicides.
  • The draft regulations seek to control and govern the production & consumption of genetically modified organisms and LMOs across the nation. It specifies that no individual shall trade, import, produce, store, or distribute any food article or food ingredient derived from GMOs without FSSAI’s consent.

The draft regulations also enclose the process for securing the concerning approvals and set out the directions for establishing the food lab for testing GMO food. The draft regulations mandate that all food articles having an individual GEO ingredient of 1 percent or more shall be labeled with the following expression;

Contains GMO/Ingredients derived from GMO

Conclusion

Bt cotton is the only approved crop in India, and its cultivation is permitted pan India. GM seeds have remained isolated from the agri-sector for years owing to the ban imposed by the government. Bt brinjal has already been approved by the authority for mass cultivation.

But it is still facing nationwide resistance from farmers and coalition. The release of the draft regulations for GM foods has been subjected to numerous debates among the public. Most environmentalists are strictly against the consumption of GM foods and demanding FSSAI to amend the draft accordingly to limit its availability across India. The Draft Regulation on GM foods incentivizes the cultivation of transgenic food that supposedly boosts the agri production. However, some coalitions are constantly opposing this concept as they think that production of GM food could endanger public health.

Read our Article:Draft Regulations on Ayurveda Aahar is about to Finalize: FSSAI

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