US asks India to reconsider GM-free certification on imported food products

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The US believes India’s order may not leave much room for technical rationale and can create confusion amongst members

India may be asked to reconsider their order that requires Genetically Modified (GM) Free Certification on imported food products.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued an order specifying that every consignment of 24 identified food products, which include apples, pineapples, rice, wheat, potato, tomato, melon, maize, papaya, plum, egg plant, bean, among others, need to be accompanied by a non-GM-origin-cum-GM-free certificate issued by Competent National Authority of the exporting country. It said that the order is to be effective from January 1, 2021. FSSAI further clarified verbally on August 26 that the regulation does not apply to processed food products made with any of the specific commodities listed in Annex-I.

However, FSSAI did not confirm whether the order applies to any listed commodities imported for animal consumption.

The US has submitted its concern to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) asking India to reconsider the order and delay execution so that all member countries can submit their opinions on the proposed requirement. According to them, all members exporting to India may encounter additional hurdles to trade for those crops. In addition to that, it could also cause bans on biotechnological products exported by countries that do not or cannot provide such certifications.

The US believes India’s order may not leave much room for technical rationale and can create confusion amongst members. They stated that this measure may also imply that genetically engineered (GE) foods are less safe than their conventional counterparts.

In light of recent events, Ashwin Bhadri, CEO, Equinox Labs has voiced his opinion. He said, “FSSAI has been at the helm of promoting and protecting public health through the supervision and regulation of food safety for years now. They wouldn’t issue an order without proper rationale.”

Equinox Labs has been providing testing & auditing services for a total of 15 years now, serving the industry’s top brands.

Bhadri added, “We completely support FSSAIs reasoning and should this order into effect, we must oblige. As far as food safety is concerned, rest assured we are in safe hands.”

India has assured the WTO that the regulation would come into effect only after all concerns voiced by WTO member countries are properly scrutinised.

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