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How is GMO Food Labeling Done?

GM Foods are now consumed regularly in India.  Cottonseed oil, soybean oil, brinjal (eggplant), and rice are some of the commonly
consumer GM foods in India. Considering that GM foods shall soon be available commercially in India and that a lot of genetically modified foods are being used in various foods, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is framing the final GMO labeling laws. The FSSAI’s role in GMO food labeling will be to regulate the GM foods used in processed foods in India, but these GM foods must firstly be approved by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).

GMO food labeling in India

The government of India is in the process of introducing a mandatory policy on GMO food labeling in India. However, one needs to study the economic impact of introducing such a labeling policy.

GMO food labeling is the responsibility of FSSAI. FSSAI is responsible for testing of food standards but independent testing is carried on which can affect the impact of GM foods on human health. Its officials said that the environment ministry should look at it.

Decision-making should be determined by the recommendation provided by the FSSAI to the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee). The FSSAI will publish decision summaries of all GM food approvals
and these will be posted on the FSSAI website.

While the Environment Ministry had excluded approvals of processed GM foods from its mandate through a 2007 notification, the Union Health Ministry requested it to continue regulating GM processed foods till FSSAI is able to look into the matter in a scientific manner.

GEAC is India’s apex body that regulates activities involving large-scale use of hazardous microorganisms or genetically engineered organisms in the country. It functions as a statutory body under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, of the ministry of environment & forests (MoEF). GEAC is responsible for granting permits to conduct biotechnology-based experiments and large-scale field trials. The committee also grants approval for commercial release of biotech crops in India. Other authorities that have similar roles and responsibilities are: Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBSC), Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM), State Biotechnology Coordination Committee (SBCC) and district-level committees (DLC).

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