BENGALURU: A citizens’ delegation of India For Safe Food (IFSF) on Monday approached the Karnataka Food Safety Commissioner demanding the removal of unapproved Genetically Modified (GM) foods from the market and for penal action to be initiated against violators of laws that regulate GM foods in India.
IFSF said it was not satisfied with the inadequate responses of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on the matter of “hazardous” GM foods flooding Indian markets illegally.
This follows Centre for Science and Environment’s findings that 32% of the food samples it tested were GM positive.
“FSSAI CEO’s statements in this regard are a matter of great concern. Denial of adverse health impacts of GM foods by the food safety regulator does not bode well, and it does not inspire citizen confidence in FSSAI,” IFSF said in a statement. “Further, FSSAI is refusing to implement the legal provisions contained in the Food Safety and Standards Act-2006 when confronted with unapproved and potentially hazardous foods that are being sold. In fact, the 2006 Act calls for action from FSSAI if there is violation of other laws too. However, the CEO gave no assurance to the citizen delegation that met him on August 7 in Delhi.”
IFSF, citing scientific studies, said GM foods are known to cause various health problems, like allergies, organ damage, adverse impacts on growth and development, reproductive health problems, immune system disorders and even cancerous growth, and attributed it to the use of deadly chemicals in GM crop production, including of glyphosate and glufosinate.
Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “Whose interests is FSSAI protecting by not ordering removal of such unapproved hazardous GM foods from the market?” Sehar Iqbal of Greenpeace India, said, “GM foods have crept into our plates and we have no idea about it! This kind of mass deception is unacceptable and illegal. How safe are we or our children? It’s time that our authorities get their act together and answer some inconvenient questions.”
However, Dr Harshvardhan B, Special Squad, FSSAI Karnataka, told The New Indain Express, “Food Safety Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey has called for a meeting in this regard on August 18. The FSSAI Act does not mention anything about GM Food, so we need guidelines from Delhi to act on it. We don’t know how to identify them and take them off the shelves, so we need to know if they are operating under any specific brand names so that we can take action.”