The Kerala Roller Flour Millers Association and the All Kerala Bread Manufacturers Association has called for the immediate ban on open air releases of Genetically Modified (GM) food crops.
The call comes amidst reports that the controversial Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill will be tabled in the coming winter session of the Parliament.
Memoranda in this connection on November 11 to the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and the Confederation of Indian Industry, the two food associations stated that their members have decided to reject GM food crops.
The communication says that the decision was taken after considering the concerns expressed at the 6th National Trade Fair for Bakery and Pastry Professionals in India held in Mumbai from November 6 to 11 on the implications that GM foods have on trade both within the country and outside. As per the decision the two associations will not accept GM crops from November.
The memoranda states that a consumer opinion poll conducted by the market research agency Gfk Mode shows that close to 80 per cent of the consumers in the country would not accept food containing genetically modified organisms. They said that in this backdrop any open release of GM crops is a cause of serious concern to them.
Demanding GM free zones, the associations said that in the past concerns had led to the ban on ay open release, including experimental trials, of GM rice in the entire Basmati belt of the country. “This was to safeguard the rice exports from GM contamination which could have led to loss of trade”.
The memoranda says that since both the associations represent a significant part of the Indian food industry, it is essential for them to avoid any chances of contamination from GM crops into their chain of supplies especially in the regions from where they source their raw materials. The memorandum cites seven such regions in the country which are of concern to them and they are wheat from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar.
The two associations have urged the FSSAI to take up the issue with the Union Government in order to ensure that policies are put in place to safeguard the interests of the food processing industry.
Meanwhile in a communication to The Hindu in this connection the environmental organisation Greenpeace India wanted the Union Government to take into consideration the massive opposition that GM crops are facing from all stakeholders. “In this backdrop the BRAI Bill should be redrafted from its current form to one that underscores bio-safety”.
Greenpeace feels that in the current form the BRAI Bill falls flat in terms of its capacity as a regulator “because of the very fact that it seems more like a promoter athan a regulator of GM crops”. The fear is that the BRAI Bill aims at bringing back the Bt brinjal and rice against the wishes of the people, the communication said.
Source: The Hindu