The Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) has raised serious concerns about the alleged import of genetically modified (GM) soybean in India by violating the environment and plant quarantine regulations.

Raising its objection on the alleged imports, the Association has written a letter to the Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India expressing the concerns. 

In the letter dated May 6, executive director of the association, D N Pathak wrote, "It has come to our knowledge that soybean is being imported into India from various countries. Flouting of environment and plant quarantine regulations is a very serious matter and we would request immediate investigation into all soybean imports to ensure that plant quarantine and environmental regulations are strictly followed," the letter reads. 

There are separate regulations for import of soybean seed for sowing and seeds for consumption or processing. There are additional restrictions on import of genetically modified food items which can be imported only against permission from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

So far GEAC has not given any clearance for import of GM Soybean.

"To the best of our knowledge, none of the plant quarantine conditions have been fulfilled by the importers and approval of GEAC has also not been obtained for import of any genetically modified soybean," Pathak wrote.

SOPA represents the soybean processing industry in the country

"It is not clear whether the consignments of Soybean cleared through customs meet the Plant Quarantine Rules which also specify that the disposal of any imported soybean consignment will have to be under the guidelines issued by the Plant Protection Advisor to the government of India," said Pathak.

SOPA has requested the Government that all consignments of Soybean, whether GM or otherwise, imported into the country should be strictly as per import and Plant Quarantine  regulations.