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Chewckbiotech: GM foods must be brought under PFA Act
Posted by: DR. RAUPP & madora (IP Logged)
Date: September 17, 2004 10:42AM ;

AHMEDABAD - The Government must bring the genetically modified (GM) foods
under the purview of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA Act), felt
speakers at a two-day national symposium on biotechnology, which concluded
in Ahmedabad September 2004.

Speaking on the issue of `Safety Evaluation on Genetically Modified Foods:
Indian Regulatory Review', P K Ghosh, senior vice-president, BioCare SBU,
Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd, said that while no genetically modified foods
are being produced in India as of now, the situation will not remain so for
too long.

"With genetically modified foods likely to be produced in the country soon,
there is a need to bring these under the purview of the PFA Act, as these
can be toxic, allergic and have nutritional effects," said Ghosh.

The biggest advantage of the GM food is that these are tolerant to insects,
diseases, herbicides and the like, but are known to be toxic and allergic.
"Some of the factors that need to be considered for safety of GM foods are
that the description, including source and sequence of transgenes and
effects of GM foods on mammalian cells, must be documented on the products,"
he said.

Ghosh, however, added that one of the biggest compromise that will have to
be made regarding GM foods is that no safety studies are conducted on humans
before GM foods are introduced in the market.

At present, the Indian regulatory guidelines are those under the Environment
Protection Act 1986 and Rules 1989. Companies wishing to introduce GM foods
have to obtain a certification from the Genetic Engineering Approval
Committee (GEAP) before they can be introduced.

To cite an instance, Bt cotton is a genetically modified seed that has been
granted permission in India and is gaining popularity among cotton farmers
because of its resistance against bollworm.

Making a few suggestions about GM foods, Ghosh stated that foremost, it is
the responsibility of the government to ensure safety of GM foods.

"Companies also must give complete information on processes through which a
GM food has been developed, he said.

Ghosh added that the government must publish a list of `safe genes', which
means that once a gene is notified as safe, companies will not be required
to seek approval from the authorities every time they want to introduce it
into the market. "There is also a need to put in place a mechanism to
monitor GM foods for implicated long term risks," felt Ghosh.


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