ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Step Forward

GM Labelling in India

The department of consumer affairs recently mandated compulsory labelling of packaged genetically modified food. Though segregation and testing to ensure compliance is a great challenge under Indian conditions, implementation is not difficult because India has only a limited number of genetically modified imports and only one commercially produced domestic crop - Bt cotton. This note provides the international context for the new rules and the background on previous attempts to mandate GM labelling.

Genetically modified (GM) product labelling is back in the news. The California Proposition (or Prop) 37 (also known as the Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act) is a keenly watched fight, to be decided in a November ballot, between well-organised citizens’ groups which want GM food to be labelled and the powerful American food industry which is keen on defeating the initiative, by pumping in tens of thousands of dollars in its lobbying.

In July 2011, a Codex Alimentarius agreement on GM labelling was reached after years of negotiation, which makes national labelling laws less vulnerable to World Trade Organisation (WTO) challenges. It was decided that countries are free to decide on whether to label foods derived from modern biotechnology.

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