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FSSAI released new draft of GM Food regulations for public comment

FSSAI released new draft of GM Food regulations for public comment
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FSSAI released a new draft of GM Food regulations for public comment

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released a new draft of Genetically Modified (GM) Food regulations for public comment, proposing front-of-pack labeling for packaged food products containing 1% or more GM components. The proposed draft legislation will apply to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) intended for human consumption, food ingredients derived from GMOs containing modified DNA, and GMO-derived components, additives, or processing aids.

‘No one shall manufacture, pack, store, sell, market, or otherwise distribute or import any food or food ingredient developed from GMOs, unless prior approval of the Food Authority is obtained,’ the draft Food Safety and Standards (Genetically Modified Foods) Regulations, 2022 stated.

Also Read | Social activists among farmers, condemned FSSAI regulations on GM food

Manufacturers and importers of genetically modified foods and ingredients must apply to the FSSAI for prior approval. The draft regulations further provide that when GMOs are utilised as food or as a raw material for food production, a clearance from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the national responsible authority for environmental risk assessment, must be submitted.

Simultaneously, if GMOs are to be used as seeds or for cultivation, the applicant ‘must concurrently file an application to the GEAC for accordance with Rules 1989 (Environment Ministry announced rules)’.

In terms of labelling, the draft law said that food products containing 1% or more GM ingredients should be labelled as ‘contains genetically modified organisms.’ This label must appear on the front of pre-packaged items, and it also applies to the accidental or technically unavoidable presence of GM substances,’ it noted.

The FSSAI originally published a draft GM Food regulation in November of last year. Also Read | Tea firms refuse to pick orders due to high chemical content beyond FSSAI regulations

‘The latest draft of the FSS GM Foods Regulations differs greatly from the draft released last year.’ Prior approvals for GM-derived foods have been streamlined by the FSSAI. However, it has also broadened the scope of the draft laws to cover food products derived from GMOs that do not contain any changed DNA,’ explained Harsh Gursahani, a food lawyer and Partner at PLR Chambers.

The new draft also comes at a time when the topic of genetically modified mustard is at the forefront.

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