GM soybean meal import: Delhi HC publishes plea notice from farmers association and refuses to stay

The Delhi High Court on Friday called for a response from the Center, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs at the request of an association of 2,000 farmers, challenging the government’s decision to allow the import of crushed products and de-oiled genetically modified (GM) soybean meal.

The division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh refused to suspend the notification issued by the General Directorate of Foreign Trade while issuing an opinion.

The Chamber expressed its empathy towards the importer who placed orders on the basis of the notification issued by the Government, and asked the petitioning association: “Are you prepared to pay damages to the importer? merchandise? You deposit the money and we will grant you a stay.

“People must have placed the orders. The goods can be in transit… This has very important consequences on commercial transactions, ”added the judiciary.

The petitioner’s association was represented by Senior Counsel Meenakshi Arora, who informed the Chamber that anything genetically modified cannot be brought into the country in accordance with national policy. She argued that the petitioner association is seriously affected by the government’s decision as GM products are always cheaper than organic products.

The case will be heard on October 22.

In July this year, the All India Poultry Breeders Association approached the government to seek permission to import 12 lakh metric tonnes of GM soybean meal due to the rising price of soybean meal, which is a raw material. essential for the poultry industry.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs approved the import after obtaining prior permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, which stated that “as the deoiled and ground soybean meal does not contain any living modified organisms. , this ministry has no objection to importation. of soybean meal or meal from an environmental point of view.

The ministry also relied on the remark made by the FSSAI that anything that is not food (not consumed by humans) does not fall within the scope of the FSSAI law of 2006 and has concluded that animal feed is not regulated by the FSSAI.

Filed through lawyer Priya Rao by Dattaguru Farmer Producer Company Limited, which produces soybeans in addition to other agricultural products, the plea challenges the notification issued by the Center on August 24, 2021, allowing the importation of 12 metric tons of crushed and deoiled lakh. GM soy cake until October 31, 2021.

The advocacy points out that GMOs, and their products, are regulated by the Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Dangerous Microorganisms, Genetically Modified Organisms or Cells, 1989 , notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

While stating that the approval of the Genetic Engineering Evaluation Committee (GEAC), which is the supreme body responsible for approving proposals relating to the release of genetically modified organisms and products into the environment, is Mandatory in accordance with Rule 4 (4) of the 1989 Rules, as far as any activity related to GMOs is concerned, the means specifies that the notification has been issued without the prior approval of GEAC.

According to the petitioner’s association, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has unilaterally concluded that the import of de-oiled soybean meal or meal will not be subject to the approval of the GEAC Annex 1 import policy under of the MoEFCC because it is a “non-living organism”. “A non-living organism is a dead cell, something that cannot multiply. It is only because a substance is a non-living organism that it does not remove the harmful effects of the GM material, ”says the plea.

It is further added that “the argument that since soybean meal is a non-living organism, it cannot be harmful, or will not carry the harmful protein of GM soybean, is completely misplaced and factually false.”

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