1. Agriculture World

FSSAI Seeks Public Input on the Regulation of Genetically Modified Foods

Shivam Dwivedi
Shivam Dwivedi

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has requested public feedback on a draft regulation governing the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import of any food or food ingredient derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

In its draft notification, FSSAI also proposed that all food products containing one percent or more genetically engineered ingredients be labeled “Contains GMO/Ingredients derived from GMO”.

The regulation applies to GMOs, also known as genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) or living modified organisms (LMOs), that are intended for direct consumption or processing. It also applies to genetically modified ingredients derived from but not containing LMOs, GEOs, or GMOs in processed foods.

The draft notification states that prior FSSAI approval is required for the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import of any food or food ingredient derived from GMOs.

Even after receiving prior approval from the biotech regulator Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Environment Ministry, FSSAI approval is required.

The FSSAI may approve or reject the application based on the safety assessment of the food article and food ingredient of a processing aid.

Following FSSAI approval, food business operators must apply for a license in accordance with the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.

Post-approval, the FSSAI stated that if a food business operator has reason to believe that GMOs or GEOs pose a health risk, he should immediately "suspend" the manufacture, import, sale, or distribution of such food items and take steps to recall them.

Once a GMO, GEO, or LMO with a 'unique identification code' (provided by the Biosafety Clearing-House, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, etc.) is approved by FSSAI, no other food business operator will need to apply for approval, according to the draught notification.

It also stated that approval will not be required if it is used as an ingredient in any product. Furthermore, the FSSAI stated that any food laboratory with a designated GM food testing area may be designated for GM food testing.

The FSSAI has given the public 60 days from the date of the draught notification's release on November 15 to submit any objections or suggestions.

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