Illegal import of GM soybeans

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Bhopal. Efforts are being made to illegally bring the seeds of Gene Cultured (GM) Soyabean into the country. The Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) has complained to the Union Agriculture Ministry regarding the import of banned GM soybeans. SOPA not only alleged import of GM soybeans, but also sent shipment and container information along with the complaint. SOPA has feared that if GM soybeans are illegally introduced into the country, it could prove to be a disaster for the agriculture sector, farmers and biodiversity. SOPA has sent the information of the ship coming to India after loading soybeans along with the complaint letter. A written complaint has been made to Joint Secretary Pramod Kumar, who is handling the Department of Plant Protection and Quarantine in the ministry. According to SOPA, a consignment of 17 thousand 741 tonnes of GM soybean is being ordered in the country through a ship named MV Ruby. This consignment is reaching Mumbai port. SOPA has also sent the name of the importing company to the Union Secretary. According to SOPA, the import of GM soybeans is strictly prohibited. GM seeds can prove to be a major threat to the country’s agriculture and biodiversity. Due to this, the government has banned the import of GM soybeans. According to DN Pathak, executive director of SOPA, on 5 December 1989, the government has enacted a law banning the import of GM or bio-engineered seeds. To evade the law, the importing company has also changed the country of origin of soybean by manipulating documents.

South America’s produce, name of Africa
According to SOPA, the origin of the consignment has also been changed to allow GM soybeans to enter the country. It has been informed on the import documents that soybeans are being imported from the African country Mozambique, whereas in reality this soybean is being brought from South American countries. DN Pathak, Executive Director of SOPA, while talking to Naiduniya said that the production of soybean in African countries is negligible. In such a situation, when soybean is imported from Africa, it is a few containers and not more than 100-200 tonnes. The entire ship of the latest consignment 17 thousand 741 tonnes is full of soybeans, which is not possible from Africa. GM soybeans are grown in the South American country. The countries of that region, Brazil and Argentina are the world’s largest soybean producers.

tax-duty evasion
According to SOPA, only non-GM soybeans are allowed to be imported into the country. Actually, under the trade agreement with African countries, zero percent duty is applicable on importing soybeans from there, but if soybean is imported from any other part of the world, then 45 percent duty will have to be paid on it. In such a situation, in the latest case, changing the origin of this soybean by diverting the vessel from Africa, not only declared it as non-GM, but also tax evasion. Actually, GM soybeans are not grown in African countries.

Check soybean consignment
DN Pathak, executive director of SOPA, says that if GM soybean reaches India, it will prove to be a disaster for the country’s agriculture and biodiversity. Any unwanted weeds, seeds or microscopic parasites may enter the country. In the same way, carrot grass had reached the country from abroad. We have complained. Now it is the responsibility of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade as well as FSSAI and Customs to check the soybean consignment.