May 8, 2006


India's deferment of GM rules to favour soyoil import



India's decision to delay the implementation of new rules governing imports of genetically modified (GM) foods until Jul 7 will help revive imports of soyoil which slowed down in the past one month, industry officials said Friday (May 5).


On Apr 7, the federal government released its annual foreign trade policy, under which it made it compulsory that all GM imports carry a "declaration" of their genetic status.


Under the policy, any imported food or feed product that contains GM material will only be allowed in the country with the approval of the government's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).


The GEAC is currently formulating guidelines for implementing the new policy.


However, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade Friday, in a swift move, put the policy on GM products in abeyance until Jul 7.


"It is a step in the right direction, as the deferment is expected to give importers of soyoil processed from GM seeds time to adjust to the new policy," said BV Mehta, executive director, Solvent Extractors Association (SEA), a lobby group of local edible oils traders and manufacturers.


The issue had been hanging fire for the last one month with the edible oil industry expressing concern that the new policy could delay import shipments of soyoil that is mostly made from GM soybeans.


"Soyoil imports should increase in the next few weeks," said Sat Narian Agrawal, general secretary, Rajdhani Vegetable Oils Suppliers Association, another group of local traders.


He said many traders who stayed away from contracting imports of soy oil in recent weeks, will now resume purchases again.


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