Greenpeace urges Central government not to settle for half hearted efforts on GM labeling.

Press release - June 18, 2012
New Delhi, June 18: Greenpeace India welcomes the formal recognition by the Government of India of the need to label Genetically Modified foods so as to give the consumer a choice. This single line decision by the Central Government was published in a Gazette Notification dated June 5, 2012 by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs. [1]

Responding to the Notification, Shivani Shah, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace said that "While labeling does give consumer a chance for the avoiding genetically modified food in the market, what our Government seems to forget is that it is almost impractical in India where more than 90 per cent of our food is unprocessed and non-packaged and forms a chunk of the unorganised sector.”

Given their potentially serious and long-term adverse implications on health and the environment, she further opined that “India is already experimenting with the lives of its citizens by permitting GMOs into the environment through field trials. It is impossible to stop contamination from open field trials of GM crops that are being permitted in our country. The best way to ensure consumer sovereignty is to take a precautionary measure and stop any environmental release of potentially risky GM crops.”

Further, the gazette notification also lacks clarity on the details such as the threshold for the presence of GM ingredients. It mentions no mechanisms on how this will this be monitored, and whether this is applicable to both primary and processed foods.

In a recent RTI response the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India[FSSAI] under the Ministry of Health and family welfare, who is the nodal agency for labeling of GM food, had said that it is not looking after the labeling of GM food. In its response letter it was said that Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, who is the nodal agency for any environmental release of GM crops, is the responsible one. Interestingly GEAC in a RTI response at the same period said the opposite, putting FSSAI as the agency in charge of labeling rules.

Given that there is serious concerns on the potential impacts of GM crops to our food, farming and environment it is important that the government comes up with infallible plans on safeguarding the health of the citizens and that of the environment from GM crops instead of coming up with such half hearted efforts on GM labeling.

Notes:

1 - (Link to the notification) THE LEGAL METROLOGY (PACKAGED OMMODITIES)( 2nd Amendment)RULES,2012

Contacts:

Shivani Shah, Sustainable Agriculture campaigner, Greenpeace India, Mob +91- 9986877364, email:

Pari Trivedi, Media Officer, Greenpeace India, Mob: +91- 7503893981, email: pari.trivedi@greenpeace.org

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