By Mayank Bhardwaj and Naveen Thukral | February 16, 2016 (Reuters) – As India prepares to import corn for the first time in 16 years, at least one stipulation in its international tender has become much tougher to meet – that shipments of the crop are completely free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The Asian country of 1.2 billion people does not allow cultivation of any genetically modified food, and has rules that are supposed to ensure that imports contain no trace of GMOs.
But an explosion in the use of GM crops worldwide means that purity grade has become harder to attain and, with a growing risk of the supply chain being contaminated, underlines the vulnerabilities faced by countries trying to stay GM free.
Even a shipment containing a handful of genetically altered seeds could cross pollinate with local varieties and mean that in India’s case farmers end up illegally growing GM crops.
“They can buy non-GMO corn, especially out of the Black sea region, but I doubt anybody can offer shipments with zero presence of GMOs,” James Dunsterville, an agricultural commodities analyst at Geneva-based commodities information platform AgFlow.