This is the first decisive move towards a gm food regime in the country. But the wisdom of the move has been questioned. While some have welcomed it, others say it is retrograde because the new regime will make it impossible in future to ban gm food, which raises serious health questions.
But farmer leader Vijay Jawandhia thinks the move is clearly an approval for all gm food imports. He says, “Though gm food existed in the Indian shelves when quantitative restriction on food imports was lifted in 2001, it had no legal acceptance and could have been banned easily. But these new rules mean India is accepting gm food for public consumption. This will promote foreign agribusiness.” GM contamination is also suspected in other imported products like tomato juice, tomato ketchups and potato chips.
Anju Sangwan, researcher and coordinator of food safety division with the New Delhi-based organisation Consumer Voice, is skeptical of the move. She says, “Although India is considering a strong labelling regime, it doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure to conduct the required testing.” A senior scientist at the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, says, “India has no lab that can actually do large-scale testing for food with gm traces as low as 1 per cent.”
There could also be a problem at the World Trade Organization (WTO). WTO's International Codex Committee on food labelling is yet to include mandatory labelling for gm food, owing to us pressure. Thus, if India seeks mandatory labelling of gm food, it runs the risk of being challenged at WTO .
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Legally Modified, a report on DownToEarth, regarding government plans to label GM food in India.