Soymeal – UPSC Prelims

  • Soymeal is the protein-rich solid left after the oil is extracted from the bean. It is used as a raw material for poultry feed.
  • Since the last few months, domestic prices of soymeal have risen from Rs 40/kg to Rs 110/kg.
  • As a result, the production cost for poultry farmers has increased, which was already impacted by the Covid-19 and Avian Influenza.
  • Hence, due to this, the poultry industry has been asking the government to import soy meal to overcome domestic shortages and high prices. But the import was not being allowed due to Government’s regulation regarding genetically modified ingredients.
What has the Government done now?
The Government of India has allowed the import of 15 lakh tonnes of genetically modified (GM) soymeal. But the import would be allowed as soya de-oiled cake as it is a non-living organism.
Why has the Government allowed the import of Soymeal?
  • The import of genetically modified organisms and living modified organisms is restricted in India.
  • However, soya de-oiled cake or meals do not fall under these categories. It falls under the non-living organism category.
  • Hence, on this basis, the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change ruled that the import of Soymeal would not require permission from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee(GEAC) and has allowed the import of Soymeal.
What are the concerns raised by Environmentalists?
  • Firstly, environmental activists have raised concerns about the permission given for something derived from a genetically modified plant to enter the human food chain, given that India’s regulatory system has yet to approve GM foods.
  • Secondly, consumer rights groups have termed the decision highly objectionable and legally untenable. It said that the 1989 rules of the Environment Protection Act applied not just to GM organisms, but also products and substances thereof.
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