The FSSAI has updated the regulations governing genetically modified (GM) food products, substituting the previous document. The definitions provided in the previous document were modified in the new document known as the Food Safety and Standards (Genetically Modified Foods) Regulations, 2022, which also included provisions requiring food businesses to disclose the presence of GMOs on the front of the pack or label if a product contains 1% or more GM ingredient.
The revised draft includes definitions for terminology like GMO, GM food, modern biotechnology, and modified DNA.
The revised draft should apply to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) intended for use as food, food ingredients made from GMOs with DNA modifications, and food ingredients made from GMOs without DNA modifications. It contains GMO-derived components, chemicals, and processing aids.
These laws, however, will not apply to genome-edited crops in the SDN1 and SDN2 categories (SDN1 and SDN2 types of genome editing are currently being used in Indian labs to breed new crops with traits such as resistance to diseases, drought, salinity stresses, and improving nutritional quality through bio-fortification).
Additionally, prior authorization would be required for the production, distribution, sale, and import of these goods. According to the draft, âNo person shall manufacture, pack, store, sell, market, distribute, or otherwise import any food or food ingredient produced from GMOs, except with the prior approval of the food authority, and the provisions of these regulations are in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other rules or regulations made under the Act.â
The document further states that food business operators must concurrently submit an application for approval to the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee), Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) if a GMO is to be used as seeds or other plant-propagating material (cultivation).
Regarding labeling, the draft mandates that if a food product includes 1% or more of a single genetically modified ingredient, it must be marked with the phrase âContains genetically modified organisms.â This label must be visible on the front of the box for pre-packaged goods.
According to the official document, âThis labeling requirement also applies to the incidental or technically unavoidable presence of GM ingredients, but it does not apply to GM-food items in which the transformed DNA is not detectable.â