Our complaint on import of GMOs and GM foods illegally, in violation of DGFT Notification

GM soybean seeds and food material is being imported illegally in India. Below is our complaint letter to DGFT regarding illegal import of GM soybean seeds and GM food material.




Director General of Foreign Trade,

Udyog Bhawan,

H-Wing, Gate No-02,

Maulana Azad Road,

New Delhi – 110001

31st January 2018


Subject: Complaint on import of GMOs and GM foods illegally, in violation of DGFT Notification – urgent action demanded – reg.


Dear Madam/Sir,


Greetings! We draw your attention to the fact that large scale illegal imports of GMOs and GM foods appear to be happening into India, in violation of the DGFT Notification No. 2 (RE-2006)/2004-2009, dated 7th April 2006. This is to lodge a formal complaint about the same, and demand that immediate investigation be initiated into this matter, and prosecution initiated for any violations found.


As per the above mentioned notification of the Department of Commerce in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the following has been laid down as Condition No. 18 of Chapter 1 A (General Notes Regarding Import Policy) of the ITC(HS) Classifications of Export and Import Items, 2004-2009 notified vide Notification No. 2 dated 7.4.2006:


“18. Import of Genetically Modified Food, Feed, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) will be subject to the following conditions:

  1. The import of GMOs/LMOs for the purpose of (i) R&D; (ii) Food; (iii) Feed; (iv) Processing in Bulk and (v) For Environment release will be governed by the provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1986 and Rules 1989.

  2. The import of any Food, Feed, raw or processed or any ingredient of food, food additives or any food product that contains GM material and is being used either for industrial production, environmental release or field application will be allowed only with the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC, which has been subsequently renamed as Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee).

  3. Institutes/Companies who wish to to import Genetically Modified material for R&D purposes will submit their proposal to the Review Committee for Genetic Modification (RCGM) under the Department of Bio Technology. In case the companies/institutes use these Genetically Modified material for commercial purposes, approval of GEAC is also required.

  4. At the time of import, all consignments containing products which have been subjected to Genetic Modification will carry a declaration stating that the product is Genetically Modified. In case a consignment does not carry such a declaration and is later found to contain Genetically Modified material, the importer is liable to penal action under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992”.


This is reiterated in the General Notes regarding Import Policy, 2012. It is noted here that the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has accorded ‘one time approval’ for import of GM soyabean oil (crude de-gummed/refined form) derived from Roundup Ready Soybean for the purpose of consumption after refining. Therefore, the above conditions will not apply to the import of said soyabean oil till further orders (Ref.: Notification No. 69 (RE-2007)/2004-2009 dated 27.12.2007). Prior to this, Policy Circular No. 11 (RE-2007)/2004-2009, dated 28th September 2007 laid down that the data relating to import of GM soyabean oil or soyabean oil from products of GM origin will be furnished by the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, Mumbai to D/o Commerce EP (Agri) Division on a monthly basis.


Recently, under Chapter 10 of ITC (HS) 2017’s Schedule 1 – Import Policy, a reiteration of an earlier regulation took place, when it was laid down that “(3) Import of genetically modified (GM) Rice is ‘restricted’. Import of Rice into India is permitted only if the importer is able to furnish a certificate from the competent Government Authorities from country of export that the exported rice is GM-free”.


While this is so, three developments compel us to write to you and lodge a complaint.


  1. It appears that some traders in India are importing soyabean seeds (this is NOT soya oil), from countries which grow GM soyabean, for crushing as well as sowing. Please see Annexure to this letter for more details on this. There are certain GM crop producing countries from whom these imports are taking place, which do not have any segregation or labelling systems for separating GM and non-GM produce. We have been importing soy seeds from USA and Ukraine, for example. The USA is known to have mostly GM soyabean (94%) and Ukraine has had its soy exports been reported and cancelled by Russia for having GM soyabean. GEAC HAS NOT APPROVED ANY IMPORTS OF LIVING MODIFIED ORGANISMS of soybean, which these seeds are.


  1. Supermarket shelves in cities like Bangalore now have products that are announcing GM food ingredients inside, and these appear to be packaged imported products, being distributed here. However, these have not been approved either by GEAC or by FSSAI. We attach proof of one such item as photographic evidence of container and bill.


  1. Meanwhile, an RTI application to the Directorate on this matter (No. DGOFT/R/2017/50183, dated 3/10/2017), which was further transferred to three other public authorities (DOREV/R/2017/81347, dated 3/11/2017 which further transferred to CBECC and DGSDM), in addition to DGOFT/R/2017/50232 dated 12/12/2017 which was transferred to Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics vide DGCIS/R/2017/80137, DGOFT/R/2017/50232/1 on 14/12/2017, drew a blank with the DGCIS disposing off the case on 18/12/2017 citing commercial confidentiality on consignment wise data!


Meanwhile, Department of Revenue to which the first RTI application was transferred on 3/11/2017 (DOREV/R/2017/81347) has transferred the application to Central Board of Excise and Customs vide CBECCC/R/2017/80231, transferred the application to Directorate General of Systems & Data Management, vide DGSDM/R/2017/80180, on 4/11/2017. The DGSDM PIO disposed off the RTI application on 17/11/2017 stating that “the requisite information that you have sought in the RTI application is not available in this office. Since this directorate is dealing with the maintenance of data received from field information related to Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax.


The fate of these RTI applications tells us that DGFT in fact is not enforcing its own regulations, and therefore, is unable to provide any information about the GM import consignments so far.


Based on all the above, we write to you to lodge a complaint on possible violations of DGFT notifications happening, in addition to regulatory norms of GEAC and FSSAI, and the Plant Quarantine Rules.  We demand that the DGFT immediately investigate into the matter to protect citizens’ interest in this matter, and fix liability on contravenors of the law urgently.

ANNEXURE_ Basis of our complaint_


Kavitha Kuruganti (8880067772)

For Coalition for GM-Free India


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