In a move that is expected to bring regulatory clarity on genetically modified foods, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released draft regulations stating that no one can manufacture or sell any food products or food ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) without prior approval.
The draft has been released for seeking stakeholder views, after an inter-ministerial consultation process. The draft regulations outline the procedure for prior approval as well as safety assessment and labelling norms. It also specifies norms that labs will need to adhere for testing GM foods.
‘Banned in infant food’
The proposed regulations will apply to “Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs) or Living Modified Organism (LMOs) intended for direct use as food or for processing.”
The regulations’ ambit will include food products, that may have been made using food ingredient or processing aid derived from GMOs, even if GM content is not present in the end-product. The food safety authority has also said that Genetically Modified Organisms or Genetically Engineered Organisms “shall not be used as an ingredient” in infant food products.
“No person shall manufacture, store, distribute, sell or import in the country any food or food ingredient, as the case may be, derived from Genetically Modified Organisms, except with the prior approval of the Food Authority. The provisions of this regulation are in addition to, and not in derogation, of any other rules or regulations made under the Act,” the draft regulations stated.
The draft also proposes labelling norms for food products that contain one per cent or more than one per cent of GMO content. “All food products having individual Genetically Engineered (GE) ingredient one per cent or more shall be labelled —Contains GMO/Ingredients derived from GMO,” the draft regulations stated.
Industry observers said the regulations once finalised will bring in clarity of regulatory status especially when it comes to imported food products.
In a bid to ensure only non-GM crops are imported into the country, the food safety regulatory had last year said that imports of 24 crops will need to be accompanied with “Non-GM, GM-Free” certificate from January 1.
However, after receiving some representations from stakeholders it was postponed and these norms came into effect from March 1. The norms were laid down since FSSAI was in the process of finalising the regulations.