Not everyone complying with GM import rules: Environmentalists

  • 23-Oct-2018
  • Not everyone complying with GM import rules: Environmentalists

Not everyone is applying to the authorities or declaring a GM-free status, anti-GM activists on Monday said demanding additional precautionary measures for importing genetically modified commodities to India.

Unlawful entry is happening with no declarations being provided and this is what the authorities need to prevent and take action on, the Coalition for GM-Free India said asking the government to also stop any import of food/seed from countries which are growing GM variety of that particular seed/food product.

Seeds and food products imported from countries growing GM varieties of those crops are likely to be GM, they said, citing examples of recent permissions on imports of food/seed by the EXIM committee from countries also growing GM variety of that food/seed.
In their letter to the ministries of agriculture and environment, they expressed concerns on continued import of seeds/food of crops in which GM versions exist, that too from countries which are predominantly GM-variant-producing, and without any systems of segregation and labeling.

India needs to build a strong scientific testing system and ensure trained food/seed safety experts are responsible for food safety to ensure that countries which do not grow GM crops but might import them do not export these to India, they said, claiming that in its recent meeting the EXIM committee for export and import of seeds and planting material again took decisions that increased the risk of GM seed imports into India.

The committee accepted a proposal "to import 30,000 kg maize seeds from US imported by a Chennai-based company even when more than 90% maize in the country is known to be GM" and "import of papaya seeds from Taiwan even while GM Papaya is well known to have been grown in Taiwan and exported to other locations too," they said.

These are only but a few examples from the last meeting alone, whereas various such examples can be found in previous meeting minutes too, they claimed.

"There have been many recorded cases in other countries where GM seeds and contaminated seeds have been imported whereas the original seed import approval or permission was given for non-GM seed alone. While applicants are being asked to provide affidavits on GM-free status of the import consignment, this is not adequate to stop unlawful imports," they added. 

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