Traces of GM corn in imported chips, finds Greenpeace

Despite strict government laws preventing manufacture and import of genetically modified (GM) food in the country, Greenpeace has found traces of GM corn in a brand of imported chips. Tests conducted at an independent laboratory on products picked up randomly from a supermarket in the capital revealed Pepsico's Doritos Corn Chips contain genetically modified Mon 863 and NK 603 variety corn ingredients. Doritos corn chips is a popular brand manufactured and sold in the US.

Both Mon 863 and NK 603 are Monsanto's genetically modified corn varieties. Mon 863 has a bacterial gene to give pest tolerance, while NK 603 has a bacterial gene for herbicide tolerance.

The country's regulatory system prohibits the sale of genetically modified food products without the permission of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee. "The presence of these products in the supermarket shelves proves that the regulatory system is in a shambles," said Rajesh Krishnan, campaigner, Sustainable Agriculture, Greenpeace India.

Meanwhile, Pepsico has denied that it imports these chips into the country and claims that these are imports without their knowledge. A company spokesperson said: "While Doritos is a PepsiCo brand, the product in question is not manufactured in India, we do not import it to India and we do not authorise others to import it to India."

Ever since the Food Safety came into being in 2006, a Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSA) is envisaged to be set up. Last year, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had issued a notification saying that GEAC, the body that regulates all GMOs would no longer regulate processed foods containing GMOs. After protests from activists and directions from the Court, the Ministry has held that notification in abeyance.

India has only allowed Bt cotton, a non-food crop into the country. For now, GM food regulation seems to be falling between the cracks. GEAC seeks that some of their regulatory powers be shared by the FSSA while the Authority is still in a nascent stage.

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