GM Food regulation: Anti-GMO activists ask FSSAI to extend deadline


The Coalition for a GM-Free India has asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to extend the deadline to submit the feedback on the draft regulations on GM (genetically modified) foods.

Stating that there are several missing links in the draft guidelines, it alleged that there was no mention on regulating the crucial aspect of GM feed. It felt that there was no provision for a long-term, comprehensive and independent testing regime. “There is no mention of independent data analysis or public scrutiny as well,” it said.

It also asked the FSSAI to offer the draft guidelines in all the vernacular languages so that people from different parts of the country can understand the guidelines and respond.

The deadline for submitting feedback ends on January 15.

‘Draft guidelines unclear’

“The FSSAI has taken so long to prepare the guidelines and come out with draft guidelines. It can wait for some more time to make it comprehensive and inclusive, allowing various stakeholders to understand and provide their feedback,” Kavitha Kuruganti said.

She felt that the draft guidelines were not clear on the role of a regulator and his or her competency in deciding matters.

“GM foods have been left virtually unregulated in the country from April 2016,” she said.

Addressing a press conference virtually on Thursday, she said FSSAI put in a new system for all importers of some select crops (rice, wheat, sugar cane, apple, eggplant, maize and potato) for a mandatory “non-GM-origin-cum-GM-Free” certification from January 1, 2021.

“This, however, is not applicable to processed GM foods,” she said.

Kapil Shah of Jatan Trust said the most important mandate of the authority – ensuring safe and wholesome food – is not being addressed with these draft regulations, especially given that there is enough scientific evidence on the adverse impacts of GM foods”.

Meanwhile, several activists, agricultural scientists and intellectuals have written a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of FSSAI, calling for extension of the deadline to submit the feedback and publish the draft guidelines in various local languages.

They also wanted the authority to conduct public consultations in vernacular languages to make it inclusive.

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