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Genetically modified food products being sold illegally in India: CSE



Genetically modified food products being sold illegally in India: CSE

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]New Delhi-based research and advocacy body Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has exposed large-scale illegal presence and sale of genetically modified (GM) processed foods in the country in a first study of its kind for India.

Production, sale and import of these foods is banned in the country without the approval of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the CSE pointed out.

The CSE study, conducted by its Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML), found 32 per cent of the tested 65 food products that are available in Indian markets to be GM-positive.

These food products were purchased randomly from retail outlets in Delhi-NCR, Punjab and Gujarat. Both imported (35) and domestically produced (30) samples were tested. “The imported samples fared worse: 80 per cent of the products which were found to be GM-positive, were imported,” said CSE.

Infant food, edible oil and packaged food snacks were among the products which were found to be GM-positive. Most of these are imported from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Thailand, and the UAE. These products were produced from or contain soya, cotton seed, corn or rapeseed (canola), which are known GM crops of the world.

Releasing the results of the study, CSE director general SunitaNarain said: “Our government says it has not allowed the import of GM food products. Then how is this happening? We have found that laws are not the problem – the regulatory agencies are.”

She said in tweet: #illegalGMinourfood @fssaiindia is responsible for ensuring that there is no GM food in India. Minister told parliament no approval for GM food given. Then how have we found in 80% of imported food tested?[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][vc_column_text]Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE, said: “We had been hearing about the presence of illegal GM food in India, and decided to do a reality check by testing processed foods. We were shocked to know the scale in which GM foodshave penetrated the Indian market. The regulatory authorities are to blame here – the FSSAIhas not allowed any GM food on paper,but has failed to curb its illegal sales.”

“GM – genetically modified – products, especially food, raise a crucial question of safety: a question of how safe are they. The jury is still out on this,” says Narain.

This is because GM food involves taking genes (DNA) from different organisms and inserting them in food crops. There is a concern that this ‘foreign’ DNA can lead to risks such as toxicity, allergic reactions, and nutritional and unintended impacts.

Most countries in the world, including India, have decided to take a ‘precautionary’ approach to GM food. They have set stringent regulations for approval and labelling. The EU, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and South Korea have made it mandatory to label GM food so that consumers have a choice about what they are eating.

Narain tweeted: #illegalGMinourfood CSE study shows #Abbott Healthcare selling #infant food with GM in India. In #US after pressure selling produce GM-free. But not here. Why? Indian lives don’t matter?[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][vc_column_text]CSE findings:

GM food contains foreign promoter and terminator genes. More than 90 per cent of GM crops in the market contain promoter genes like 35S promoter of cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) and FMV promoter of figwort mosaic virus, and NOS terminator of Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

Using quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR), CSE’s lab screened the food products to ascertain if they had a combination 35S promoter, NOS terminator and FMV promoter.

The key findings of the study are:

– 32 per cent (21 out of 65) of the food product samples tested were GM-positive.

– About 80 per cent (16 out of 21) of those which tested positive were imported. These were made of or used soy, corn and rapeseed and were imported from Canada, the Netherlands, Thailand, the UAE, and the US.

– 56 per cent (9/16) of oil samples, 25 per cent (10/39) of packaged food samples and 25 per cent (2/8) of infant food samples were GM-positive.

All five samples of cottonseed oil from India tested positive. This is because BT-cotton is the single GM crop that has been allowed for cultivation in the country.

This should worry us. Said Bhushan. “Firstly, no permission has been given for the use of GM cottonseed oil for human consumption. Secondly, cottonseed oil is also mixed in other edible oils, particularly vanaspati, which means we are consuming it without knowing,” he said.

– GM contamination was found in infant food, sold for children with medical ailments, including allergies. Two products by Abbott Laboratories, the American healthcare company, were found to be GM-positive – one was for lactose-intolerant infants and the other was a hypoallergenic (for minimizing the possibility of an allergic reaction). Neither product has any label warning parents that this food has GM ingredients.

– Other than edible oil, no processed food sample manufactured in India was found GM-positive.

– There was no mention of GM in the labels of 65 per cent (13/20) GM-positive samples labels. These include:  Canola oil brands (‘Farrell’ imported from UAE by Jindal Retails (India) Pvt Ltd; ‘Hudson’ from UAE, marketed by Dalmia Continental Pvt Ltd; ‘Jivo’ imported from Canada by Jivo Wellness Pvt Ltd);and cottonseed oil brands from India (‘Ankur’, ‘Ginni’, ‘Tirupati’ and ‘Vimal’).

Packaged foods like ‘Pancake syrup original’ and ‘Popcorn Hot N’ Spicy’ – both products of American Garden – imported in India by Bajoria Foods Pvt Ltd; ‘FrootLoops’ – a sweetened multigrain cereal from Kellogg’s imported by Newage Gourmet Foods; and ‘Crispy corn snacks’ from Bugles – distributed by General Mills Inc, USA and imported by Newage Gourmet Foods.

– Three products made false claims suggesting that no GM ingredient is used. These were ‘Candrop’ Canola oil from Canadaimported by Century Edible Cooking Oils Pvt Ltd; ‘Mori-nu silken tofu’ from the US, imported by Olive Tree Trading Pvt Ltd; and ‘PromPlus sweet whole kernel corn’ from Thailandimported by Guru KirpaImpex.

– Four products that carried labels of genetic engineering technology were ‘Butter and Garlic Croutons’ from MrsCubbison’s; ‘Corn puffs’ by Trix – distributed by General Mills Sales Inc, USA; ‘Original syrup’ from Aunt Jemima – distributed by Quaker Oats in the US; and ‘Dark corn syrup’ from Karo, US. All four products were imported by Newage Gourmet Foods.

Says Narain: “In 2008 (updated in 2012), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had issued guidelines for determining safety of such food — it cautioned that ‘there is a possibility of introducing unintended changes, along with intended changes, which may in turn have an impact on the nutritional status or health of the consumer.’ Keeping this in mind, India should adopt a health-based precautionary principle approach to GM food regulation and labelling.”

The FSSAI has now issued a draft notification on labelling, which includes GM food. Says Amit Khurana, programme director, food safety and toxins, CSE: “The FSSAI notification says that any food that has 5 per cent or more GM ingredients, shall be labelled, provided this GM ingredient constitutes the top three ingredients in terms of percentage in the product. The exemption limit of 5 per cent is very relaxed compared to other countries such as the EU, Australia and Brazil, which have limits at or below 1 per cent.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Rahul Gandhi disqualified as Lok Sabha MP after conviction in 2019 defamation case



Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from his membership as a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Lok Sabha after his conviction and subsequent two-year prison sentence in a 2019 defamation case by a court in Gujarat’s Surat city yesterday.

This is a breaking story and more details will follow.

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Amritpal Singh may be headed to Delhi: Reports



Fugitive Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh may be headed for Delhi, a day after his last known location was traced to Haryana, reports quoting sources have claimed.

An NDTV report quoting sources said the security has been heightened across the national capital as its suspected that the notorious ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief may be headed to Delhi after last being spotted in Shahabad in Haryana’s Kurukshetra.

On Sunday, Amritpal Singh and his associate Papalpreet Singh, had stayed at Shahabad home of a woman identified as Baljeet Kaur, who was arrested yesterday, Punjab Police said.

A video with a time stamp of Monday, doing the rounds on the internet yesterday showed the fugitive Sikh preacher dressed in a white shirt and blue jeans, trying to hide his face with an umbrella as he was departing from the Baljeet Kaur’s house in Shahabad.

On Thursday, the Punjab Police arrested Amritpal Singh’s former gunman and notorious associate, Tejinder Singh aka Gorkha Baba.

A report quoted DSP Payal Harsimrat Singh of the Punjab Police as saying that Tejinder Singh, a resident of Punjab’s Mangewal village, was nabbed by the Khanna police.

DSP Harsimrat said Tejinder, who was a gunman for Amritpal Singh for a long period and often lived with the Waris Punjab De chief, is also involved in the Ajnala case. The officer said that Tejinder, also known as Gorkha Baba, was very active on social media and often posts pictures of himself brandishing different weapons due to which he’s wanted in a separate case registered against him at Malaud police station.

The official further said that Tejinder has been booked under sections 107/151 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and two other aides who accompanied him, have also been taken into custody and are being questioned.

A nation-wide crackdown was launched to nab Amritpal Singh after last month, the dreaded Khalistani leader and his supporters armed with swords and guns, stormed a police station in Ajnala on the outskirts of Amritsar city and clashed with police for the release of one of his aides Lovepreet Singh.

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Woman gang-raped, boyfriend assaulted in Virar near Mumbai



Two men allegedly gang-raped a woman and thrashed her boyfriend near a temple in Virar area, near Mumbai, in Maharashtra’s Palghar district, officials said on Thursday.

According to the police, the incident happened at around 5 pm on Wednesday in the forest area near the Jivdani temple in Virar East where the 20-year-old victim and her boyfriend were chatting and sitting alone.

The two accused, identified as 25-year-old Dheeraj Soni and 24-year-old Yash Shinde—both residents of Sainath Nagar locality of Virar, a distant Mumbai suburb—spotted the couple sitting on a hillock near Jivdani temple and tried to extort money from the young lovers after they saw them hugging, said an official.

The official said that the victim’s boyfriend told them he didn’t have any cash on him and instead transferred Rs 500 to the accused men via internet banking, however the men demanded more money and started to beat up the man, adding they also smashed an empty beer bottle on his head.

The accused then stripped the boyfriend naked, tied him to a tree and raped the girl in front of him who could do nothing but helplessly watch the horrific ordeal unfold in front of his eyes.

An official from the Virar police station said the injured boyfriend could not stand up to the attackers as he watched the accused duo take turns raping his girlfriend.

He said that after the brutal rape, the accused men fled the scene with man’s clothes and his mobile father while the petrified rape survivor also fled the spot after she saw her violators departing, leaving her unconscious boyfriend behind.

The injured boyfriend was spotted by locals after he regained consciousness around 6.30 pm and came out of the secluded forest looking for something to cover his naked body. The residents informed the police, who arrived at the spot and took him to a hospital for treatment after which his statement was recorded.

Police team then arrived at his girlfriend’s home where she narrated the horrific ordeal and based on her statement, a case of gang rape, unnatural sex, assault, extortion, threatening against the two accused under sections 376(d), 324, 377, 384, 504, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), was registered against the accused who were then arrested within two hours of the incident, an official said.

Further investigation is underway, he added.

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