GM soybean imports aid India’s struggling poultry sector

25-08-2021 | | |
The price of soybean meal in India has seen a significant rise. Photo: Life for Stock
The price of soybean meal in India has seen a significant rise. Photo: Life for Stock

Some relief has been given to India’s poultry industry with the reported approval of the import of 15 mt of crushed genetically modified soybean for poultry feed.

India’s poultry industry has faced various challenges over the past 18 months, including avian influenza outbreaks, a steep rise in the price of poultry feed, and rumours that alleged the coronavirus and chicken meat are linked, all of which have negatively affected consumption.

All India Poultry Breeders Association chairman, Bahadur Ali, noted that over the last 3 or 4 years, soy meal has been available at an average cost of 34 to 36 rupees per kg (US$ 46-49). However, recently, this price increased to 96 rupees per kg (US$ 1.29). “That kind of price spike is simply unsustainable,” he said, reported The Hindu.

Dispute over regulation

The poultry industry has been lobbying for the import of soymeal to tide over domestic shortages and tame prices, continues The Hindu, but have been hindered by the grey area of regulation regarding genetically modified ingredients, given that most imported meal comes from GM beans.

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On 10 August, the Department of Animal Husbandry notified Customs that soymeal and oil cake from GM soy would be permitted for import. In a letter to the poultry breeders, the department cited the environment ministry saying it had no objection “since soya de-oiled and crushed cake did not contain any living organism”.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India reportedly noted that anything which is not consumed by humans is not within the domain of the Authority. The Tribune reports that affiliate Bhartiya Kisan Sangh and the Coalition for a GM-Free India have taken strong objection to the decision to allow GM soya meal for livestock feed.

Natalie Kinsley Freelance journalist