Monday, 30 January 2017

DC investigation: Genetically Engineered food in Hyderabad is uncertified

By Udumula Sudhakar Reddy

From breakfast products to sauces, salad dressings to snack foods, certain imported products sold in city supermarkets were likely to contain Genetically Engineered (GE) food ingredients.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) officials said that it was illegal to sell food products with GE ingredients as they were  still restricted.

An investigation done by this newspaper in the city’s supermarkets found that food products with GE ingredients like corn, soy bean, mustard seed and canola oil from the United States and Canada were sold widely in the city.

Products of US-based companies like General Mills, including Cocoa Puffs, Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch and Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce were  imported by Delhi-based companies and sold in supermarkets in several areas including Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills, Madhapur and Secunderabad.

General Mills on its website said, “In Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch, some ingredients (generally less than 75 per cent of the product by weight) are from plants grown using GE seeds.” It also revealed that Cocoa Puffs were produced with GE ingredients.

Restrictions on GE food to continue
According to Washington-based Environment Working Group (EWG), Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce, General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios, and Whole Grain Oat Cereal may contain genetically engineered or may be derived from GE crops like Modified Starch (Corn).

How to Avoid Geneti-cally Engineered Food — A Greenpeace Shoppers Guide — has red-listed Honey Nut Cheerios and Red Enchilada Sauce as they are likely to contain GE or GE-derived ingredients.

Interestingly, a company named SR International with a New Delhi address on the labels of the products of General Mills and Old El Paso has an FSSAI licence number. However, when the licence number was verified on FSSAI’s website, it was found to be licensed to a Mumbai-based company. The customer care number on the label was not working.

FSSAI deputy director Dr M. Kannan said, “Two days back, FSSAI announced that restrictions on genetically mutant or modified foods would continue. No imports will be allowed.”

Consortium of Indian Farmers; Associations chief adviser P. Chengal Reddy, who also did a research on GE ingredients, said, “In Khan Market of Delhi, Andheri of Mumbai, T. Nagar of Chennai, MG Road of Bengaluru, Jubilee Hills of Hyderabad, genetically engineered corn flakes, soy bean, corn, ready-to-eat foods are sold. Even GE pet food is sold.”

He added, “According to International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications, 83 per cent of soy bean produced in the world is genetically engineered. Most soy bean, corn products from US and Canada contain GM ingredients. If an American food or beverage product lists corn, soy, canola, cottonseed or beet sugar as an ingredient, it is likely to contain GE ingredients.”

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