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FSSAI guidelines on GMO Crops

Topics Covered: Biotechnology.

FSSAI guidelines on GMO Crops:


Context:

FSSAI issued an order on February 8 setting the permissible limit for genetically modified organisms (GMO) in imported food crops at 1%.

  • However, trade organisations have said that this threshold is unacceptably high.
  • It amounts to an advocacy for zero presence of GMO in food and some other consumables.

GMO regulation in India:

The task of regulating GMO levels in imported consumables was initially with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Union environment ministry.

  • Its role in this was diluted with the enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and FSSAI was asked to take over approvals of imported goods.

What are Genetically Modified Organism (Transgenic Organism)?

In GMO, genetic material (DNA) is altered or artificially introduced using genetic engineering techniques.

Genetic modification involves the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes.

  • Inserted genes usually come from a different organism (e.g. In Bt cotton, Bt genes from bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis are induced).

Genetic modification is done to induce a desirable new trait which does not occur naturally in the species.

GM techniques are used in:

  1. Biological and medical research,
  2. Production of pharmaceutical drugs,
  3. Experimental medicine (e.g. gene therapy),
  4. Agriculture (e.g. golden rice, Bt cotton etc.),
  5. Genetically modified bacteria to produce the protein insulin,
  6. To produce biofuels from some GM bacteria, etc.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are GM crops?
  2. What are GMOs?
  3. About GEAC.
  4. About the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

Sources: Down to Earth.