By Narayana Kulkarni
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), an apex body in India authorized to approve the use of genetically modified (GM) crops or organisms in the country, at its meeting in July 2014, had approved the import of refined soybean oil derived from transgenic soybean by three companies - Bayer Bio-Sciences, BASF India, and Monsanto Holdings. The GEAC had given a clean chit after the samples of refined soybean oil were tested at Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) and approved. However, so far no import of transgenic refined soybean oil has taken place.
The three global agricultural companies which received the approval are offering agricultural solutions to farmers all around the world. Since 1996, these companies have received approvals for commercial cultivation of soybean in about six nations. But the transgenic crop is available for food, feed and processing use in over 20 nations excluding European Union and Russian Federation. It is a mandate that all traits need to be cleared/de-regulated for trade, worldwide. Hence these companies have submitted biosafety information with GEAC about the events and got approval from the regulatory agency. This will help the trading companies or processing units who are looking for import of transgenic soybean oil to get green signals for their applications without delay.
According to Soybean Processors Association of India, popularly known as SOPA, the only national level body representing the soybean processors, farmers, exporters and brokers in India working towards the aim to strengthen soybeans as a viable crop, there are 112 processing units in India processing soybean with modern processing technology.