Agri Business

Anti-GMO coalition opposes decision to import GM soyameal

KV Kurmanath K V Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on August 13, 2021

Domestic soya prices have crossed ₹1 lakh a tonne mark

Anti-GMO (genetically modified organisms) activists have strongly opposed the Centre’s decision to allow the import of GM soya meal into the country.

“What the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee have reportedly stated is highly objectionable and legally untenable,” the coalition for a GM-Free India has said.

Quoting an official letter, the BusinessLine reported on Thursday that the government had allowed the All-India Poultry Breeders’ Association to import 1.5 million tonnes of GM soyameal to help it tide over the feed crisis in the industry.

Domestic soya prices have crossed the ₹1 lakh a tonne mark, sharply increasing the cost of production.

The government contended that both the Ministry of Forest and Climate Change and FSSAI (Food Safety Standards Authority of India) had not objected to the decision.

While the GEAC found no live seed involved (hence, no objection to importing the GM products), the FSSAI reportedly said since it was not food (consumed by human beings), it had no purview over the issue.

Anti-GMO activists have taken strong objection, saying that the Environmental Protection Act, 1989, rules were not just about GMOs (organisms), but also about products and substances thereof.

“Where is the safety assessment of this feed, who applied for this with the regulatory body and on what basis was GEAC saying what it did,” the coalition asked.

“Even the Food Safety Authority cannot say that they will not regulate feed, since anything that enters the food chain that is hazardous, is something that the FSSAI has to regulate,” it argued.

Skyrocketing feed costs

Battered by two waves of Covid-19, the poultry industry is now faced with skyrocketing feed prices, which constitute about 80 per cent of all the cost of production.

Soyameal constitutes about 25 per cent of the feed needs, while corn contributes about 50 per cent.

Unable to bear it any longer, the breeders’ association wrote to the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, seeking permission to import the GM soyameal, abundantly available in countries such as the US, Brazil and Argentina.

“If you have to import non-GM soyameal, you have only Ukraine to depend on. But you have plenty of supplies, if they allow us to import GM soyameal. We are anticipating the first batches of the produce later this month,” an industry executive said.

Published on August 13, 2021

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