Economy

US complains about India’s non-GMO certification requirement for food again at the WTO

Amiti Sen | | Updated on: Jul 01, 2022
The US sought discussion with the FSSAI on an alternative approach that is less trade-restrictive and more consistent with international best practices

The US sought discussion with the FSSAI on an alternative approach that is less trade-restrictive and more consistent with international best practices | Photo Credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE

Says it has not yet provided scientific justification; seeks discussions with FSSAI

The US has complained at the WTO that, despite several requests from trade partners, India has provided “neither scientific justification nor a risk assessment’’ supporting its mandatory requirement for non-GMO (genetically modified origin) and GM-free status certificates for certain agriculture imports.

Reiterating its call for an immediate revocation of the order, the US sought discussion with the FSSAI on an alternative approach that is less trade-restrictive and more consistent with international best practices, according to a submission made by the country’s representative to the WTO SPS Committee.

Status certificates

Since March 1, 2021, the FSSAI has required a mandatory Non-GMO and GM-free status certificate from exporting countries for 24 listed food products, which include pineapples, apples, wheat, rice, tomato, potato, maize, melon, plum, papaya, potato, egg plant, and beans, among others.

American companies find it difficult to adhere to the certification requirement as the US has no restrictions on GM food.

The tolerance limit, specified by FSSAI, for the accidental presence of GM is 1 per cent of the imported food crop consignments. The US had requested India to provide the scientific justification for establishing the tolerance at this level and provide relevant risk assessments or international standards on which this tolerance is based.

In its fresh submission against the order, the US noted that India had previously asserted that the order is not trade restrictive and cited both the compliance of various trading partners and the lack of approvals by its Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for GM- and GE-origin crop varieties as evidence and justification for the move.

Negative impact

“The United States stresses that instances of compliance and a lack of GE approvals do not provide appropriate or adequate justification for the Order, but rather highlight the negative impacts on trade and inefficient biosafety regulation in India,” the submission said.

During the India-US Trade Policy Forum meeting in November 2021, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and her team raised concerns about non-GMO certification, but India held its ground and justified the requirement by re-emphasising that GM food was not allowed in the country. According to sources, Washington, however, insisted that there should be more discussions on the matter and the exploration of alternatives.

Published on July 01, 2022
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