Nepal has allowed the import of a few genetically modified crops, partially relaxing the complete ban put eight years ago, amid intense lobbying from the country’s poultry industry
Nepal has allowed the import of a few genetically modified crops, partially relaxing the complete ban put eight years ago, amid intense lobbying from the country’s poultry industry. However, the policy still bars direct consumption by humans.
Currently, only the import canola, soybean, and maize are allowed. Soybean and maize are the two main GM crops cultivated around the world. The move would now enable Nepalo oil companies to sell the oil after processing the GM oilseeds, and byproducts should be used for livestock feed.
In 2014, the country's apex court had ordered a complete ban on the import of genetically modified crops until the government drafts a comprehensive policy regarding their importation, use, cultivation, and management. The ban came due to the long-term effects of these products on human health and biodiversity.
The recent relaxation regarding the strict ban also saw protests by a section of scientists and lawyers in the country, questioning the government’s intention. A senior official admitted GMO foodstuffs were rampant in the (Nepali) market due to a weak monitoring mechanism. “Our existing mechanism cannot trace them,” he was quoted as saying by Kathmandu Post.
Recently, the Agriculture Ministry received several reports that foodstuffs produced using genetically modified crops were flooding the market following a massive rise in the import of soybean.
Thereafter, the government asked all importers to produce certificates of non-GM for food imports.
The government was also under pressure on the issue as last year there was a severe shortage of poultry feed in India that provides almost 90 percent of Nepal’s feed. Furthermore, the price also tripled in a year period. The situation forced importers to turn to the US.
However, the government became concerned when these products flooded the market without any labeling regarding GM or non-GM. The partial relaxation came as the result of these existing challenges. Officials, however, are aware of risks.