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Draft Food Safety and Standards (Genetically Modified Foods) Regulations, 2022

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

  • It is an autonomous statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act).
  • Parent ministry: Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Composition:
    • The FSSAI is made up of a Chairperson and twenty-two members, one-third of whom must be women.
    • The Chairperson of FSSAI is appointed by the Central Government.
    • The Food Authority is assisted by Scientific Committees and Panels in setting standards and the Central Advisory Committee in coordinating with enforcement agencies.
    • The primary responsibility for enforcement is largely with the State Food Safety Commissioners.

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Food Safety and Standards Authority of India Powers and Responsibilities

  • It Formulates the Regulations to lay down food safety standards.
  • It prepares guidelines for the accreditation of laboratories for food testing.
  • It provides scientific advice and technical support to the Government.
  • Collecting data regarding food consumption, contamination, emerging risks, etc.
  • Promoting awareness about food safety and nutrition in India.
  • Lay down science-based standards for articles on food.
  • Regulate the manufacture, storage, distribution, import, and sale of food.
  • To promote food safety.


Food Safety and Standards Rules Highlights

  • Applies to: The proposed regulations, once implemented, will be applicable to the following:
    • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) intended for food use,
    • Food ingredients produced from GMOs that contain modified DNA.
    • Food ingredients produced from GMOs that do not contain modified DNA but includes ingredients/additives/processing aids derived from GMOs.
  • Prior approval: Foods or food ingredients produced from GMOs cannot be manufactured, packed, stored, sold, marketed, or imported without the prior approval of the FSSAI.
  • Food-labeling instructions:
    • Packaged food products that contain 1 per cent or more of GM ingredients must be labeled with the words ‘contains genetically modified organisms’.
    • This label must appear on the front of pack of pre-packaged products.
    • This labeling requirement also applies to adventitious or technically unavoidable presence of GM ingredients.
    • The labeling requirement will not be applicable to GM-food products in which the modified DNA is not detectable.
  • Packaging and labeling compliances: The regulations stated that “all GM-foods shall comply with the packaging and labeling requirements specified under the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Regulations, 2018 and Food Safety and Standards (Labeling and Display) Regulations, 2020”.


Food Safety and Standards Act 2006: What is GMOs

  • “Genetically Modified or genetically engineered Organisms (GMO)” means any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.
  • GMOs produced through genetic technologies have become a part of everyday life, entering into society through agriculture, medicine, research, and environmental management.
  • However, while GMOs have benefited human society in many ways, some disadvantages exist; therefore, the production of GMOs remains a highly controversial topic in many parts of the world.


Food Safety and Standards Packaging Regulations

GMOs Regulatory Framework in India:

  • Strict regulations are in place to control threats to animal health, human safety, and biodiversity
    at large during the processes of development, cultivation and transboundary movement of GMOs.
  • Acts and rules that regulate GMOs in India include:
    • Environment Protection Act, 1986 (EPA)
    • Biological Diversity Act, 2002
    • Plant Quarantine Order, 2003
    • GM policy under Foreign Trade Policy
    • Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006
    • Drugs and Cosmetics Rule (8th Amendment), 1988.


Food Safety and Standards Authority of India UPSC

Approved GMOs in India:

  • Bt cotton is the only genetically modified (GM) crop that has been approved for commercial cultivation in 2002 by the Government of India.
  • In 2009, GEAC cleared transgenic aubergine or eggplant, also called Bt brinjal, for evaluation. But that effort stalled following a strong public backlash and the recommendations of aubergine-growing Indian states.
  • In April 2022, India has allowed imports of an extra 550,000 tonnes of GM soymeal, to help the poultry industry reeling from a surge in local prices of the important animal feed.
  • In October 2022, GEAC has recommended the “environmental release” of the transgenic hybrid mustard DMH-11 for seed production.

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