Non-GMO certification requirement to hamper expanding market access for farm produce: US

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on November 26, 2021

Seeks more consultations at TPF as India maintains that country did not allow GM food

The US has raised fresh concerns over the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) order mandating non-GM origin and GM-free certification for import of 24 identified food crops, including apples, pineapples and wheat, and has argued that this was impeding joint efforts to increase market access for agricultural items, sources have said.

India justifies stand on non-GMO certification

At the recent India-US Trade Policy Forum meet, India held its ground and justified the requirement by re-emphasising that GM food was not allowed in the country but Washington insisted that there should be more discussions on the matter and exploration of alternatives.

“The TPF joint statement does not specifically mention non-GMO certification as India did not want to give any commitments. Instead, it talks about exchanging information on standards and conformity assessment procedures to ensure that requirements are no more trade-restrictive than necessary and are in line with international agreements,” the source said.

There will be talks about the certification issue in the working group meetings of the TPF going forward, but India has not given any commitments, the source added.

Also read: US says FSSAI’s non-GMO certification requirement has hit its apple exports

USTR Katherine Tai visited India earlier this week on a two-day official tour and participated in the TPF, which met after a gap of four years, with her Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal. It was decided to revive working groups covering areas including agriculture, non-agricultural goods, service, investments and IPs.

The joint statement issued by the ministers mentions that the two sides would follow up on exploring the possibility of enhanced market access for additional identified agricultural products. This was in addition to the agreement to finalise work on market access facilitation for mangoes and pomegranates, pomegranate arils from India, and cherries and alfalfa hay for animal feed from the US.

“The US team said that enhanced market access for more agricultural products would be meaningless as the country may not be in a position to actually carry out the exports due to the mandatory GM-free certification requirement. That is why a resolution to the issue was needed,” the source said.

Last August, the FSSAI published an order specifying that every consignment of 24 identified food products need to be accompanied by a non-GM-origin-cum-GM-free certificate issued by competent national authority of the exporting country. The US finds the requirement difficult to adhere to as it has no restrictions on GM food in the country. Following the implementation of the order in March 2021, the US complained at the WTO that the order had hit export of apples from the country.

It also said that India needed to provide the scientific justification and the risk assessment for the measure and also suggested that technical discussions should take place between the two sides to explore alternative options and certifications.

Published on November 26, 2021

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