This is not new, as a matter of fact there has been no demand for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from anywhere in the world, ever. On the contrary, ever since foods containing GMOs were introduced in the nineties, they have been under scrutiny for the health and environmental risks associated with them. This also explains why there is zero demand for GMOs and consumers are actively trying to avoid these. Clearly if consumers don't want it, there is no economic incentive for food companies to sell these.
At least some food businesses seem to be getting the link and are taking precautionary steps to steer clear from GMOs. The Kerala Flour Millers Association and Kerala Bread Manufacturer's Association wrote to the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) stating that they have taken a GM-free position.
They have demanded that the GEAC ensure none of the states from which they make procurements have any open releases of GM crops including field trials. Field trials or experimental fields by nature are open and are the first step to contamination. This is not a mere hypothesis, there have been hundreds of cases of contamination from across the world in the last few years alone.
In 2010, the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed - the border control warning system - issued 47 alerts over the presence of GM rice in Chinese imports. This when China has not even permitted GM rice for commercial cultivation.
The contamination was from field trials alone and 47 cases in one year is by no means insignificant! As a consequence, Europe's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health has demanded that as opposed to random checks, which was the norm earlier, all consignments of rice products originating in China will be verified. China will bear the brunt (read costs). The only way China, or any other country for that matter, can secure crops from contamination and ensuing costs is by stopping field trials.
What the two aforementioned Indian associations have demanded then makes logical sense. It is not a whimsical ask from a rose-tinted glasses-wearing business-head. After all collectively they represent a market which accounts for close to Rs 6,000 crores. That much at stake.
This is not the first time a step of this sort has been taken. Back in 2006, the coveted basmati exporters took a similar step to safeguard their Rs 7,500 crore market. We expect this is not the last either.