Not satisfied with the wholly inadequate responses of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on the matter of hazardous GM foods flooding Indian markets illegally, a citizens’ delegation of ‘India For Safe Food’ knocked on the doors of the Karnataka Food Safety Commissioner. They were demanding the removal of unapproved GM foods from the market and for penal action to be initiated against the violators of different laws that regulate GM foods in India. This follows the findings of Centre for Science and Environment’s findings that 32 percent of the food samples it tested were GM-positive.
“The FSSAI CEO’s statements in this regard are a matter of great concern. Denial of adverse health impacts of GM foods by the food safety regulator does not bode well, and it does not inspire citizen confidence in FSSAI. Further, FSSAI is refusing to implement the legal provisions contained in the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 when confronted with unapproved and potentially hazardous foods that are being sold. In fact, the 2006 Act calls for action from FSSAI if there is violation of other laws too! However, the CEO gave no assurance to the citizen delegation that met him on August 7th 2018 in Delhi”, alleged India For Safe Food.
“GM foods are known to cause various health problems, as per numerous scientific studies. This includes allergies, organ damage, adverse impacts on growth and development, reproductive health problems, immune system disorders and even cancerous growth. This could also be because of the deadly chemicals that get used in GM crop production, including of glyphosate and glufosinate. In the USA, in a landmark court case in San Francisco, a victim of Monsanto’s glyphosate (a weedkiller which has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the WHO) Mr Dewayne Johnson won a victory when the jury ruled on Friday (August 10th 2018) that the company was responsible for the negligent failure, with Monsanto ordered to pay $289 millions as damages. A latest study on Bt toxin shows it to be unsafe, which causes immunogenic, allergenic and pre-cancerous intestinal changes. In such a situation, we are shocked the FSSAI CEO is non-chalantly claiming that there are no verifiable health impacts of GM foods!”, said IFSF in a statement issued here.
The delegation met with Mr Pankaj Kumar Pandey, IAS, who is the Commissioner, Health & Family Welfare as well as Food Safety Commissioner of Karnataka. He agreed that GM foods have not been concluded to be safe, and that it is known that 'there are no good effects'. He has promised to look into the matter of prohibiting such foods from Karnataka at least, using the authority vested in the State Food Commissioner as per the Food Safety & Standards Act 2006, and he will now organize a meeting on the 18th of August, with his officials, to take a decision in this matter.
Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “In the name of regulatory vacuum, the FSSAI cannot deny citizens their right to know what they are eating, their right to safe food, and their right to informed choices. When FSSAI admits in the Supreme Court that it has not permitted any GM foods to be sold in India, it follows logically that it has to implement several provisions of the Act, which disallow GM foods and unsafe foods to be sold in the country. Whose interests is FSSAI protecting by not ordering removal of such unapproved hazardous GM foods from the market? If FSSAI is keen on first confirming if GM foods are indeed being sold and does not want to rely on the findings of a private entity like CSE, it should have begun testing these products based on our complaint months ago, in March 2018. They are just desperately seizing on to any excuse they can find, to not discharge their mandate. This is absolutely unacceptable”.
“GM foods have crept into our plates and we have no idea about it! This kind of mass deception is unacceptable and illegal. How safe are we or our children? It’s time that our authorities get their act together and answer some inconvenient questions”, said Sehar Iqbal of Greenpeace India.
The citizen delegation included representatives of more than 15 organisations, and delegates held up placards that said “No Poison in Our Food”, “FSSAI Act Now-Remove GM Foods” etc.