Food Labels Should Declare Pesticides Used and GM Presence
According to World Health Organization (WHO), “Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally”.
Recently, Union Health Minister JP Nadda admitted that millions of tonnes of GM food products have illegally been sold in India for many years. Even after repeated complaints, no action on these illegal GM products has been taken by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
In fact, instead of tackling illegal GM food products, FSSAI has now come up with the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018 which states that all food products having total Genetically Engineered (GE) ingredients 5% or more shall be labelled.
5% is an extremely high threshold for GM presence. The regulation also does not talk about GM presence in animal feed, a lot of which has GM presence too. Testing facilities around the world can detect GM presence to a level of 0.01%.
India must also adopt a 0.01% threshold for GM presence, whether in food or animal feed.
More than 300 scientists and legal experts from around the world have mentioned about calls by various governments to investigate long-term health impacts of GM food consumption in the light of uncertainties raised by animal studies.
Also, deadly pesticides, including those banned elsewhere, are allowed to be used in our food production. These pesticides must be mandatorily labelled when food is being sold at retail shelves.