An Indian NGO submitted a complaint to the country’s food safety authority on 16 March, calling for immediate action against the alleged illegal import and sale of genetically modified (GM) edible oil products in India.

In the complaint, the Coalition for GM-Free India (CGMFI) claimed that certain soyabean and canola oil brands were being openly sold in stores in major cities, including Bengaluru, Noida and Mumbai, despite them being prohibited by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Times of India reported.

“As mentioned by Health Minister J P Nadda in parliament on 29 December 2017, various companies have been illegally importing and selling GM soyabean and canola oil for human consumption. Whilst these have the permission from the environment ministry, they do not have the permission from the health ministry’s FSSAI,” Kavitha Kuruganti, co-governor of CGMFI said in the complaint.

She added that the illegal oil products “did not even have the labelling” in place marking them as GM products.

“We can only conclude that either [the FSSAI remains] unaware or inactive, failing in the discharge of [its] responsibilities,” CGMFI’s complaint read.

The NGO requested that the FSSAI take “the strictest action” against those violating Indian law by selling GM oils and ensure that the products were removed from store shelves without delay.

According to section 22 of India’s Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, the manufacture, sale, distribution or import of GM foods is prohibited unless specifically detailed in the law.

The FSSAI is India’s highest authority on food safety, tasked with ensuring all food sold in India is safe for human consumption and that consumers are not misinformed by packaging labels.