Agri Business

Soyameal imports trigger GM debate

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on August 31, 2021

Allow farmers to grow transgenic crops: Maharashtra farmers’ body

The Centre’s decision to allow import 1.2 million tonnes (mt) of crushed and de-oiled genetically modified (GM) soya cake or soyameal has once again triggered the GM crop debate in Maharashtra.

If the government is importing GM soya oil and soyameal, Indian farmers could help produce them if cultivation of GM crops is permitted. The Centre must allow farmers to cultivate GM soya to be competitive in the world market, demanded Shetkari Sanghatana (SS).

Permission to grow?

SS President Anil Ghanwat, also a member of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee on farm laws, told BusinessLine that for the last many years GM soya oil has been imported and now soyameal is being imported. “If the GM products produced in other countries could be used here, why aren’t similar products produced by Indian farmers allowed in the market?” asked Ghanwat. The poultry industry had demanded import of GM soyameal, stating that soyameal prices have soared over the last few months.

The Centre, while allowing import of soyameal, got clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC).

The MOEFCC has held that “since soya de-oiled and crushed cake does not contain any living modified organism, this Ministry has no concerns and no objection for import of soyameal from an environmental angle”.

State government’s stand

Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Dada Bhuse has written a letter to the Centre demanding to withdraw its decision to relax norms to allow import of de-oiled and crushed GM soyabean as poultry feed.

The Centre has not given permission to produce GM soya in the country, but has allowed the import of GM soyameal. This decision will have a long-term impact on farmers and soyabean rates in the domestic market, Bhuse said in a statement.

As per the State government’s data, Maharashtra is the biggest soyabean producer with 45 lakh hectares under cultivation. Farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions grow soyabean along with farmers in western Maharashtra.

“Last year soyabean received a good price in the market and farmers increased soya cultivation. This year, a good harvest is expected. But at the same time, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry allowed the import of 1.2 mt crushed and de-oiled GM soyameal. The new soyabean (domestic) has just started coming in the market and Centre’s decision has resulted in a drop of price by ₹2,000,” said Bhuse.

Published on August 30, 2021

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