Food Safety and Standards (GM Foods) (Draft) Regulations

The FSSAI recently released a new draft of Genetically Modified (GM) Food regulations for public consultation. This comes at a time when the issue concerning the genetically modified (GM) mustard is under the spotlight.

About the new draft regulations

The new draft is different from the old version that was released by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in November 2021. The recently-released draft aims to simplify the procedure of prior approvals for food that are derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It also expands the scope of regulations by including food ingredients produced from GMOs that do not have any modified DNA.

What does the draft regulations propose?

  • The draft regulations propose front-of-the-pack labeling of packaged food products that contain 1 per cent or more of GM ingredients.
  • It is applicable for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used in food items having 1 per cent or more of GM ingredients produced from modified DNA and GMO-derived ingredients, additives or processing aids.
  • No one will be allowed to manufacture, pack, store, sell, market, distribute or import any food items produced from GMOs, except those that have received prior approval from the FSSAI.
  • Manufacturers and importers of genetically modified food products and ingredients are required to receive approval from the food regulator.
  • If the GMOs are used as food or source material for the production of food, clearance is required from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) – the central government authority responsible for monitoring the environmental risks posed by the GMOs.
  • If the genetically modified organism is used as seeds or for cultivation, the applicant is required to submit an application to the GEAC to comply with the Environment Ministry’s 1989 rules.
  • Food products having individual 1 per cent or more GM ingredients must be labeled as “contains genetically modified organisms”. This label must be at front of the pack of pre-packaged products. This rule is also applicable to the presence of adventitious or technically unavoidable presence of GM ingredients.

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