ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

7 January 2003


1.India says 'No' to food aid from US
2.Leading scientists say India's food aid rejection based on concerns over bio-safety


1.India says 'No' to food aid from US

05th Jan 2003
By IndiaExpress Bureau

India has disallowed shipment of food aid from the United States suspecting it of having genetically modified (GM) contents.

According to Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh, the country has yet to take a decision on the import of GM foods.

"Moreover, we do not need import of food since India is already having surplus stocks," said Mr. Singh.

The shipment of maize and soya was part of the annual $100 million US food aid programme for people suffering from chronic malnutrition.

Indian authorities suspect it has been mixed with bio-engineered produce as per the practice of mixing non-GM stocks with GM stocks in the USA.

Earlier, Zambia, which suffered food shortages last year, had rejected international food aid, mainly from the US, suspecting it of containing GM produce.

The matter was, however, raised by a US delegation led by Senator Kit Bond during its visit to New Delhi last week, official sources said.

Mr. Bond claimed GM food had no adverse effect on the health of consumers and Americans have been eating GM food regularly for past seven-eight years.

Besides, the US wants India to reconsider its decision as it could have negative implications for the commercial development of GM crops in India.

Interestingly, India and the US have agreed to sign an MoU on a tie-up between US based Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre and an Indian company and the Bangalore Agriculture University on developing pest and disease-resistant crop varieties using biotechnological approach.

The tie-up is being interpreted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as a deliberate attempt by the US to make India accept GM foods.

Several political leaders have openly opposed GM crops which they describe as part of multinational companies' campaign to destroy the Indian farm sector which sustains on indigenous practices and varieties.

Meanwhile, the Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness, a Bangalore based NGO, has dismissed these fears saying that India was more concerned about preserving its own GM variants.



Asia Pulse, January 7, 2003

India's rejection of a US food-aid consignment containing corn-soya blend is based on the country's concerns over bio-safety, leading scientists said here.

A Rs 5 billion (US$104 million) aid consignment was rejected last month, with government expressing particular concern over GM-maize. "There is every justification to ask suppliers in host country to submit documents on tests conducted on bio-safety of transgenic foods as they have a bearing on India's environment security along with human and animal health," Head, Genetics Division, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), B B Singh, told PTI.

He said tests and protocols are adhered to before introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops and reports relating to these have to be studied in detail before allowing import of genetically modified foods.

Another scientist said being part of the food-chain, both corn (maize) and soyabean, have to be subjected to critical tests before being introduced in the country.

He said in case they are being imported, the produce has not only to be labelled 'GM' but its impact on human health studied before being given the requisite clearance.

Singh said such foods can have adverse effect on humans like skin allergy unless it is conclusively proved that the tinkering with genes is "safe".

He said this is all the more necessary as modification is done with genes which are of unrelated species.

Of particular concern is the impact of Rex variety of GM corn as experts are wary of its effect on human health, he added. (PTI)

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