According to sources, after objection from several civil society groups, including RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has extended the deadline on draft regulations on GM food to February 5. The previous deadline had ended on January 15.
There are several online petitions filed by civil society groups as well as one by SJM against the regulations.
Coalition for a GM-Free India, a consortium of several such groups, said the regulator has not committed to publish the draft regulations in vernacular languages, nor has it committed to holding widespread consultations, which were also the demands being put forward by citizens.
“This limited-time extension is insufficient and insignificant. While it might be useful to some extent, this does not address what citizens have been asking for,” the coalition contended.
“We object to the fact that the regulator is ignoring what citizens are legitimately demanding. Citizens want to engage with these regulations being proposed by FSSAI, since there is a wide demand from people of India who want to keep their food GM-free.”
The group pointed out to FSSAI that the draft regulations are being rejected for a variety of reasons, and that the proposed regulations should be revised drastically, to ensure that FSSAI would be able to fulfill its statutory mandate, and to keep out GM foods from our food chain.
More than 50,000 citizens have so far signed these multiple letters, with the demand of keeping India GM-free being at the centre of these efforts. Incidentally, the maximum signatories are from Gujarat.
“We urge Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to intervene in this matter, and not leave this issue of great importance to only the regulatory body FSSAI, which has already failed citizens several times on this front,” the coalition said in its statement.