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India: Illegal GMO's Found in Baby Formula, Potato Chips

Greenpeace India
June 21st, 2001

NEW DELHI, June 6, 2001 -- In a press conference held in the Defence Colony market in Delhi, Greenpeace announced that Genetically Engineered (GE) food have illegally entered the Indian market. Greenpeace provided evidence of two popular products - Pringles Potato Chips and Isomil Baby food containing genetically engineered ingredients.

Tests conducted by an independent laboratory, Hong Kong DNA Chips, prove that Procter and Gamble's Pringles Potato Crisps and Abbott Laboratories Isomil baby food both manufactured in and imported from the USA contained genetically engineered ingredients. Tests very specifically showed the presence of Monsanto's GE Roundup Ready crops in both the products(1)

According to Indian law (2)it is illegal to import or sell any genetically engineered food products without the prior approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. After checking with the GEAC, Greenpeace found neither Abbot, nor Monsanto or Procter and Gamble had applied for a permit, in blatant violation of the law.

Not only are these companies unashamedly violating the laws of the country, they are deceiving an oblivious public", stated Michelle Chawla, Greenpeace's Genetic Engineering Campaigner.

Greenpeace accused the manufacturers of practicing double standards. Although the companies would be allowed to sell these products in Europe, Procter and Gamble have assured citizens in Europe they will not use GE ingredients in their food products. Also Abbott assured the consumers in UK and the Netherlands that its products were GE-free.

Scientists still do not know the long term effects of releasing GMO's into the environment and people's diet," said Isabelle Meister, science advisor with Greenpeace International. "There is increasing evidence that GMO's might have harmful effects on the environment or to public health. Only recently, hundreds of food products had to be recalled in the US, because they contained traces of a genetically engineered corn (StarLink), suspected to cause allergies.

Greenpeace demands that the companies immediately withdraw their food products and respect the law while asking the Government to take necessary action to enforce the law and prosecute it's violation.


(1) On May 24th, 2001, Greenpeace commissioned an independent Hong Kong Food Testing Laboratory (Hong Kong DNA Chips, Ltd) to test 6 consumer food items available in the Indian market. The laboratory used a standard PCR test (polymerase chain reaction) to check for the presence of gene sequences from the two most commonly grown types of genetically engineered crops. Round Up Ready crops (primarily soya and some corn), which have been genetically engineered to resist Monsanto's weedkiller 'Roundup'. Bt Crops (primarily corn) that have been genetically engineered to produce an insecticide toxin. All 6 products were chosen for testing because they contained either soya or corn ingredients. The test results for Pringles Crisps and Isomil Baby food were positive for Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops.

(2) Under the Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Micro Organisms Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells (1989), Rule 7 (1) states "No person shall import, export, transport, manufacture, process, use or sell any hazardous microorganisms genetically engineered organisms/substances or cells except with the approval of the Genetic Engineering. Approval Committee." Rule 11 states: "Foodstuff, ingredients in food stuffs and additives including processing and containing or consisting of genetically engineered organisms or cells, shall not be produced, sold, imported or used except with the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee."

(3) In 2000, over 50 percent of the soya and 25 percent of the corn grown in the US was genetically engineered. The US refuses to segregate conventional crops from the genetically engineered ones. Therefore soya and corn from the US is almost certainly contaminated with GE. The US is the major source of genetic contamination. Interestingly, sixty percent of all processed foods contain soya or/and corn ingredients, such as soya flour, soya lecithin. Food items processed in the US are at a high risk of containing GMO's.