CSE Study Finds Genetically Modified Content Present In Infant Food, Packaged Snacks
The trade of genetically modified (GM) processed food is not permissible in our country without the government’s approval. Surprisingly, a recent study done by the non-profit research and advocacy group, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found that it is widely sold without any control from health and food regulators. The study says that the GM is widely present in infant food and packaged snacks.
On July 26, Thursday, a study was released, that pointed out large-scale illegal presence and sale of genetically modified (GM) processed foods in the country. CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML), which conducted this study, tested 65 food products available in the Indian market, of which 32% had GM content present in it.
According to the Hindu, these products were randomly purchased from retail outlets in Delhi-NCR, Punjab and Gujarat. In this sample, 35 products were imported, and the other 30 were domestically produced.
Imported samples fared the worst. 80% of the products that were found to be GM-positive were imported.
Edible oil (domestic manufactured), infant food, and packaged food snacks are included in the GM positive food list. A lot of these products are imported from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Thailand, and the UAE. These products are produced from or contain soy, cottonseed, corn or rapeseed (canola), which are known GM crops of the world.
Kept In Dark
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.”
She further said that it is worse than most GM foods do not disclose GM on their labels, whereas a few also made false claims of being GM-free. She says that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India [FSSAI], the apex food regulator, has been negligent in regulating GM food, in fact, the authorities have failed to curb its illegal sales, its draft regulations on GM food labelling are weak and impractical to implement.
CSE deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan blaming the Indian regulatory body said that “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 see the scale at which GM foods have penetrated the Indian market. The regulatory authorities are to blame here — the FSSAI has not allowed any GM food on paper but has failed to curb its illegal sales.”
Most countries around the globe, including India, have decided to take a ‘precautionary’ approach to GM food. The countries have set strict laws for approval and labelling. Countries like Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, South Korea and even the European Union have made it mandatory to label GM food so that consumers have a choice about what they are eating.
Is GM harmful to us?
Genetically modified crops are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods. The Genetically Modified food involves taking genes (DNA) from different organisms and inserting them in food crops. The researchers are concerned that this ‘foreign’ DNA may lead to risks such as toxicity, allergic reactions, and nutritional and unintended impact.
“GM products, especially food, raise a crucial question of safety: a question of how safe are they. The jury is still out on that,” said Ms Narain.
Recommendation by CSE
According to the Center for Science and Research Department, the CSE recommended that India should keep a check on the regulation of the sale and the trade of the GM processed food. It has also suggested that FSSAI must set up a safety assessment system for approval of both domestic and imported GM foods. Further, it has asked that the limit for GM labelling exemption should be set at 1 per cent GM DNA and not by weight of ingredients. Only unintentional contamination should be exempted.
If you are someone who buys processed food for yourself, your family and especially your kids, you must watch this. For complete coverage, go to www.downtoearth.org.in #illegalGMinourfood
Posted by Down to Earth on Thursday, July 26, 2018
CSE, in order to curb the illegal presence and sale of GM-foods in the market, has also recommended that FSSAI must set necessary approval processes, make stringent labelling standards, set up laboratories to check for GM foods. They have also urged to take action against those responsible for bringing such foods illegally into the market.
“In 2008 (updated in 2012), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had issued guidelines for determining safety of such food — it cautioned that ‘there is a possibility of introducing unintended changes, along with intended changes, which may, in turn, have an impact on the nutritional status or health of the consumer.’ Keeping this in mind, India should adopt a health-based precautionary principle approach to GM food regulation and labelling,” said Narain.