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Genetically modified foods widely sold illegally in India: Research

NEW DELHI

A study by a Delhi-based think tank alleged today that genetically-modified processed foods, including infant foods, were being widely sold in the country illegally.

The study conducted by the non-for-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found that 32 per cent of the total of 65 randomly-selected samples — both imported and domestic companies — tested positive under the genetically-modified category.

“Every second-imported product we tested was genetically-modified positive that were mostly from developed countries. Nine out of 10 products were from the US,” said Chandra Bhushan, the deputy director general of CSE.

“While most of the genetically-modified (GM) foods that were tested did not disclose GM on their labels, few also made false claims of being GM-free,” Bhushan said.

The study by the public interest research and advocacy organisation said about 56 per cent of the samples were of oils, 10 samples of packaged foods and two samples of infant foods.

The CSE recommended that the apex food regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), must set up necessary approval processes, make stringent labelling standards, set up laboratories to check for GM foods and take action against those responsible for bringing such foods illegally into the market. FSSAI was not available for comment immediately.

Reacting to the findings, the Coalition for a GM-Free India slammed the government for “actively jeopardising” the health of the people by “allowing illegal-and-hazardous” GM foods on a large scale in India.

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