In this second version of the Safe Food Guide, Greenpeace reassesses the scenario in India with respect to the use of genetically modified organisms, consumer attitudes towards GMOs and behaviour of popular food brands.
In this guide, we would like to unravel and highlight consumer attitudes towards GMOs in India. In 2010, in consumer opinion poll conducted by GfK Mode, over half of the citizens questioned in India (53%) said they would reject food containing GMOs. In fact, a majority (77%) have shown a preference for foods that come from ecologically grown sources. Moreover, irrespective of their awareness or knowledge levels, a majority (69%) want packaged food to declare through labelling whether or not it contains genetically modified organisms. 61% people want labelling on unprocessed (fruits, vegetables etc.) and unpackaged foods as well. Several studies and polls have established that the attitude towards GE foods is similar in several other countries over a period of time. With the moratorium on Bt brinjal in place, there is no genetically modified food crop that is commercially cultivated in India. However, this does not rule out genetic contamination of our foods from unmonitored open air field trials or the unchecked import of raw food grains. More than 11 major food crops have been grown at hundreds of acres across the country, posing a real danger of contamination to consumers and food businesses. Imports of crops soya, canola and corn and their derivatives from US, Argentina, Brazil and Canada, the only countries where GM versions of these crops are grown extensively, go unchecked, and collectively they pose a significant contamination threat. Also, moratorium does not indicate how responsibly food brands or food processing companies will act in the current situation or in the future. Since the printing of the first Safe Food Guide, we have contacted 25 popular food brands and food processing companies and asked them in detail about their policies on the use of GMOs. The ranks of these companies, which are based on the company’s responses to Greenpeace, have been reflected in the guide. We have increased our scope since the last time, to see not only what companies have stated in their responses to Greenpeace but how this is reflected in practice. It also takes into account broadly how much information companies are willing to share with their consumers, if they are practicing double standards and how they are likely to act in future if government regulations on GM foods change.