November 19, 2003
Source: Hindustan Times
GMO certification important for food exporters
'WITH MORE and more countries, especially the European countries, imposing
restrictions on import of genetically modified organism (GMO) food items, the
relevance of GMO testing and certification will play a crucial role in India's food
exporters in the coming years. At present, AQUAS is the only company in the country
that provides testing and certification facilities to the food exporters. Aquas'
vice president Manan Bhat was recently in the city to participate in the SOPA
convention. He spoke to Ramesh Shankar about the pioneering company in the country.
Q. What is GMO testing all about?
It is all about detecting the content of GMOs in a particular food item. Genetically
modified organisms (GMO) are the result of new methods of genetic engineering
applied to plant life. GMO foods are accepted by some countries and rejected by
others. So, GMO testing is very important food exporters as without GMO testing and
certification, food items will not be allowed to be imported in those countries have
Q. Which countries have imposed restrictions on GMO foods and why?
The European Union countries, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka etc are some of the countries
where such restrictions have been imposed and the number would increase in the
coming years. World over, various stakeholders in agrobusiness like consumers,
government, traders and manufacturers are increasingly becoming aware and anxious of
genetically modified crops, foods and fibre. They are all anxious about its effect
on the human body.
Q. Something about your fledging company?
Our company. Avesthagen Quality Agriculture Services (AQUAS) is the first company in
the country in the field of GMO testing. It is a biotech research driven company
based in Bangalore that was established by Dr. Villoo Morawala Patell in 1997. We
have entered into an alliance with global leader in GMO identification - Genetic-ID.
So, we are now in a position to provide the agriculture and food processing
industry internationally accepted GMO testing services. In fact, we assist the food
processing companies to certify their products as GMO-free through out testing and
we provide non-GMO certificate called CERT-ID.
Q. What is the role of your company in food exports?
Our company has an important role to play in the food processing industry in the
country as without GMO testing and certification it will be well nigh impossible to
export food items to a large number of countries where restrictions have been
imposed on GMO food items. And the number of such countries is fast increasing. Our
non-GMO certified products will have competitive edge over others and the first
mover advantage and greater acceptance among the importing countries.
Q. What is the procedure of GMO testing?
Any company can come to an agreement with our company for a GMO testing of their
products, which is done in 10 days time including the transition period. We never
disclose the company's name and the result of the testing is given in a sealed cover
to the company officials of the company only.
Q. Who are your intended clients?
Our clients include bakery and confectionary products, cattle feed supplements, dry
fruits and nuts, dyes and colour additives, edible oil and allied products, flavours
and aromatics, food processing plants, fresh, dried, preserved and dehydrated fruits
and vegetables, liquors, mineral water and beverages, meat and poultry food, coffee,
tobacco, spices and derivatives, seeds, rice, wheat, pulses and food grains, milk
and dairy products, etc.
Q. How accurate is the GMO testing by your company?
We use the PCR polymerase chain reaction method in our GMO testing which is the
ultimate testing method applied in order to meet customer contracts during food
exports. PCR is the gold standard for GMO testing. GMO tests based on PCR are used
worldwide to verify contracts and regulatory compliance.
PCR detects genetically modified DNA directly and is highly sensitive, at least one
hundred times more sensitive than other methods.
AQUAS offers PCR based tests for all GMOs. In addition, PCR can quantify GMO
content more accurately and it works with a much wider range on processe.