500 tonnes of illegal genetically modified rice from India were withdrawn by the EU after it were discovered in a consignment that India exported to the European Union countries in June 2021.
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In the consignment exported to European Union countries in June 2021, 500 tonnes of genetically modified rice was discovered. The Coalition for GM Free India said on October 19, 2021 that this incident has led to the “loss of reputation of India and its agricultural market”.
The coalition wrote a letter to AK Jain, chairperson, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
The European Commission Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) identified illegalities in food products upon a check.
Soon after that a large number of batches of rice flour exported to countries like Iraq, USA, Mauritius, Dubai, Qatar, Senegal, Turkey and Lebanon were recalled for use in the EU.
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The rice flour made from the 500 tonnes of broken Indian white rice imported into Europe was resold and put on the market in many European countries. It was also used by the Mars Inc company (M&M’s Crispy) as an ingredient in chocolate sweets and baked goods.
Genetically Modified (GM) crops are those that have been modified genetically to enhance their nutrition quotient. However in India, various health and environment related concerns are being raised by several civil society groups.
The commercial cultivation of a genetically modified food crop is still not approved in India. However, multiple GM rice varieties have been cultivated at various stages of confined field trials.
The Coalition for GM Free India, in its letter, warned that such trials have led to “contamination and leaks” that have made their way to the food chain.
A paddy farmer from Kerala, demanded via a letter that an inter-ministerial, inter-agency body be set up with the GEAC to look into illegal GM imports.
It also suggested banning the field trials in order to avoid any contamination of food and seed supply chains. The letter added:
“The illegal cultivation of HTBt cotton, Bt brinjal and GM soybean gave us a clear indication that there is a trend of GM crops from field trials ending up in our farms and food.
It is an unfortunate truth that our regulatory system has been found ineffective in curbing this. It is also shocking that GEAC has failed to take effective action to even identify those behind seed supply…”
According to some news reports, owing to frequent bouts of drought in 2019, farmers in Maharashtra allegedly started growing illegal HT cotton not cleared for commercial cultivation.
There were unknown and unauthorised genetically modified organisms being found in the rice exported from India, in 2012. The Directorate-General Health and Consumers of the European Commission had issued a notification to the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, seeking a reply on the same.
India had denied the allegations. In addition to it India demanded an investigation into the supply chain and sought identification of the organisation that exported the broken rice.
Meanwhile, International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), an American nonprofit with an innocuous sounding name has been quietly infiltrating Indian government’s health and nutrition bodies influencing India’s food policy on behalf of the chemical industry.
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