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Indian sugar millers association opposes biotech sugarcane

(Monday, June 30, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Financial Express, New Delhi, June 29: The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) is of the opinion that the country should not grow any genetically modified (GM) sugarcane, even if the country wants to boost its sugar exports. Instead, it feels, the country should concentrate more on growing raw sugar - the demand for which is rising in the global market. In this regard, even the government should render necessary support and assistance, which are compatible to WTO agreements, said Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) director-general, SL Jain.

Speaking to FE, Mr Jain said “planting of GM sugarcane should be avoided in the country as many importing countries have started rejecting GM foods. We are trying to tap new markets in Japan and the Japanese importers have specifically told us that they would import sugar from India only if we can assure them that sugar produced in the country are from non-GM canes.”

Mr Jain further said that a Japanese industry delegation led Mr Osamu Kmikawa of Mitsui & Co and Katswa Fukuda of Mitsubishi Research Institute is visiting India on July 8, to find out whether any GM canes are being grown in India.

Japan currently imports about 1.5 million tonne of raw sugar every year from different countries, baring India. He said that the news of India allowing commercial cultivation of Bt cotton and planning to release other GM food crops, has drawn the attention of many importing countries which are averse to GM foods. The European Union, which imports 10,000 tonne of raw sugar from India through tariff rate quota (TRQ) regime and if we go for cultivation of GM canes this market would also be disturbed. It is no secret that the EU consumers are severely against consumption of GM foods. “We must be very particular on this issue if we are to sustain our exports and food security”, Mr Jain said. Therefore, efforts are on to see that EU gives more market access to Indian sugar. Mr Jain, however, complained that 40 per cent of the global exports of white sugar are being controlled by EU through domestic price support regime.

He said that this year India’s sugar exports would be around 1.6 million tonne as the major market, Bangladesh has virtually stopped importing and Indonesia has placed strict regulations on imports.