July 24, 2006


India GM rules would not apply to soyoil import till Mar 2007



India's federal government Friday (Jul 21) temporarily lifted the restrictions imposed on import of genetically modified soyoil, to ensure adequate supplies and keep local prices under check.


The rules that regulate the import of genetically modified products won't be applied to soyoil until Mar 2007, an official notification said.


However, soyoil is not exempted from the rules that govern the import of GM products, a government official said, adding that importers are merely being given more time to adjust to the rules.


"We don't want supplies to be disrupted until a protocol is put in place to regulate imports (of GM soyoil) in consultation with the industry," the official said.


India's edible oils industry has welcomed the government's latest move.


"We represented to the government and are glad our suggestion has been accepted. This will ensure smooth supplies and stable prices for the time being," said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors Association.


This is the second deferment in the implementation of rules for GM soyoil imports.


April 7, the federal government released its annual foreign trade policy, which made it compulsory for all GM imports to 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, or GEAC.


The edible oil industry expressed concern that the new policy could delay soyoil imports, which are mostly made from GM soybeans. However, on May 5, a government notification put the policy in abeyance until Jul 7, and the latest notification further extends the postponement to Mar 31, 2007.


India is one of the largest importers of soyoil by volume. Crude soyoil imports rose to 2.0 million tonnes in the marketing year ended Oct 2005, from 890,695 tonnes in the 2003/04 marketing year. Crude soyoil constituted 40 percent of India's total edible oil imports in the year ended Oct 2005.


Crude soyoil imports rose to 182,614 tonnes in June 2006, from 108,285 tonnes in Jun 2005.


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