INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has created a draft set of regulations for genetically modified food, proposing that the manufacture, sale, and import of food or ingredients made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) require prior authorization from the regulator.

According to the FSSAI, GMOs created for food usage will be subject to the proposed Food Safety and Standards (Genetically Modified Foods) Regulations, 2022.

Once in effect, the laws will also apply to food items made from GMOs with DNA modifications as well as those made from GMOs without DNA modifications but with chemicals, additives, or processing aids originating from GMOs.

Any living being that has a unique combination of genetic material acquired through the use of contemporary biotechnology is referred to as a GMO.

“No person shall manufacture, pack, store, sell, market or otherwise distribute or import any food or food ingredient produced from GMOs, except with the prior approval of the food authority,” the draft regulations said.

All food products, including GMOs created for human consumption and food ingredients made from GMOs with altered DNA, must have the statement “contains genetically modified organisms.”

This is contingent on whether the product contains 1% or more of the GM ingredient when taken as a whole.

Pre-packaged goods must have this label on the front of the packaging.

According to the FSSAI, this labeling requirement also applies to the accidental or technically unavoidable presence of GM components.

For GM food products with undetectable modified DNA, the labeling requirement will not be relevant.

The draft, dated November 18, has been made available for public comment, and comments may be made within 60 days of publication.

Following years of hesitation on the issue, the FSSAI released the draft regulations on GM foods on November 15, 2021, and sought public opinion.

Activists however came out to condemn the move mentioning that the regulations were just meant to pave the way for easier entry of GM foods into India.

Since April 2016, the issue of GM foods had been left virtually unregulated between the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the FSSAI under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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