In a fresh complaint at the WTO against India’s mandatory non-GMO (genetically modified origin) certification requirement for food , the US has said that implementation of the order had caused trade disruptions for American exports, especially apples and rice, and should be immediately withdrawn.

India has stated that the requirement to regulate the import of “GM” food is not new, as outlined in the Environmental Protection Act, and that the requirement has not caused trade disruptions. The US, however, pointed out in its complaint that reality was different.

“The US must stress that the requirement of a non-GM certificate on a consignment basis was first ordered in 2020, and since its entry came into force, the order has caused trade disruptions for US exports, most notably apples and rice,” according to the submission made by the US to the WTO SPS Committee on November 11.

‘Withdraw measure’

It urged India to immediately withdraw the measure and reiterated its desire to engage in technical cooperation with food standards statutory body FSSAI.

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

‘No scientific explantion’

US companies find it difficult to adhere to the certification requirement as the country has no restrictions on GM food. In its submission, the US noted that India still refused to furnish an explanation of the scientific basis and risk assessment which justifies this non-GM certificate requirement on a consignment basis. 

“The US asserts that instances of compliance by other countries, and India’s own issuance of similar certificates, do not constitute sufficient justification for this order, and furthermore the order must be notified to the SPS Committee,” it said.

In India, the government has already taken a significant step towards allowing GM for food items with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) allowing the environmental release of GM mustard for seed production and testing.