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NDTO News Article

India’s New Non-GM and GM-Free Requirements

In 2020 the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued orders to require Non-Genetically Modified (GM) and GM-free certificates on certain agricultural and food consignments imports. Further clarification has been forthcoming since the requirement took effect in March 2021, and in November of 2021, more information was clarified on how to provide this documentation.

India touts this certification requirement as a safety regulation for its consumers. India has had a long history of regulating GM and Genetically Engineered (GE) products in their food supply chains, which have caused hardship and frustration on both sides of the debate for letting GM/GE foods into the country and into their farming practices. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are currently not allowed in India’s food products for human consumption. However, there has been some gray area around feeding GMO products to animals, and those animals go directly to human consumption. This has been the case for GMOs in chicken feed, which has made the Indian poultry market more profitable but has also introduced GMOs into the food supply chains.

With this new regulation, a “competent national authority” of the exporting country is needed for the certification documentation. In the US, the USDA and similar agencies like the ND Dept of Agriculture are tasked with providing such certifications, allowing entry of GM-Free products into the Indian marketplace. The certificates are needed for items intended for direct use in food or processing, according to recent clarifications from FSSAI. Anything imported that defies the GM rules will require prior approval from the FSSAI before entry.

Each of the 24 crop groups listed below will need to be accompanied by documentation certifying its non-GM or GM-free status. Several of the targeted products are grown in ND. Below is the list of the specific foods requiring non-GM or GM-free certification if exported to India.

  1. Alflalfa (Medicago sativa)
  2. Apple (Malus x Domestica)
  3. Agentina Canola (Brassica napus)
  4. Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
  5. Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
  6. Cowpea (Vigna unguiculate)
  7. Egg Plant (Brinjal) Solanum melanogoa
  8. Flax seed (Linumusitatissimum)
  9. Maiz (Zea mays)
  10. Melon (Cucumis melo)
  11. Papya (Carica papaya)
  12. Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
  13. Plum (Prunes domestica)
  14. Polish canola (Brassica rapa)
  15. Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
  16. Rice (Orzya sativa)
  17. Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
  18. Soybean (Glycine max)
  19. Squash (Cucurbita pepo)
  20. Sugar Beet (Beta vulgaris)
  21. Sugarcane (Sacchrum sp)
  22. Sweet Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
  23. Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum)
  24. Wheat (Triticum aestivum)

Recent talks on this regulation were brought up at the India-US Policy Forum in New Dehli in November 2021, and India held its ground on the measures, saying that GM food was not allowed in their country. In a joint statement from both the Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, they emphasized that talks were still ongoing and there was some possibility of future market access adjustments available for agricultural products.

With these new regulations, if your ND company is struggling to find the right place to find information, the NDTO is here to help. NDTO’s International Business Manager Jiwon Kim says, “we are happy to work as a bridge to assist exporters who have questions on India’s GM rules, and we can connect you with the right agencies to help.”  NDTO will continue to watch for updates to the GM certification process in the future to keep you informed.