FSSAI’s GMO Threshold; Ultrafine Particles; State Of India’s Environment; Solar ‘Gigawatt Club’

FSSAI’s GMO Threshold

According to the Coalition for a GM-Free India,  one per cent threshold for genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food crops imported into India, is unacceptably high.

The threshold has been set by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

In August 2020, FSSAI had issued the order that 24 food crops the country imports would need a ‘non-GM-origin-cum-GM-free certificate’ issued by a competent authority. On February 8, the authority defined the GMO threshold of these crops for certification.

Laboratories in India can detect as little as 0.01 per cent presence of GMO in foods, the letter pointed out. So, the country must aim to accept imported consignments only when there is no trace of GMO in the products, especially processed food, and they come with a GMO-free certificate.

The task of regulating GMO levels in imported consumables was initially with Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Union environment ministry. Its role in this was diluted with the enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and FSSAI was asked to take over approvals of imported goods.

Ultrafine Particles

  • The smallest, invisible particles matter the most when it comes to dealing with air pollution, researchers have found in two recent studies.
  • Ultrafine particles — which have almost negligible weight and surface area and are hence are not considered a threat to the air we breathe — do have an effect on haze formation, visibility and air pollution.
  • These were the takeaways from the studies published in journals Faraday Discussion and Nature NPJ climate and atmospheric science.
  • Atmospheric air pollution kills more than 10,000 people every day. Some 1.7 million Indians died due to air pollution in 2019, according to a report by interdisciplinary journal Lancet Planetary Health published December 2020.

State Of India’s Environment

2021 State of India’s Environment (SoE) report, an annual publication brought out by Down To Earth in association with Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi-based non-profit, has revealed that industrial pollution levels continue to worsen in India.

In 2009, the Central Pollution Control Board had developed the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI), which characterises the environmental quality of a location and identifies severely polluted industrial areas. According to CEPI data, air pollution worsened in 33 of the 88 industrial clusters between 2009 and 2018.

Solar ‘Gigawatt Club’

  • Nations with installed capacity to produce 1 GW of solar power form the ‘gigawatt club’, an unofficial tag.
  • Of the 37 countries that are part of the solar ‘gigawatt club’, only two — South Africa and Egypt — are from Africa.
  • The first annual African Solar Energy Outlook 2021 report released by the Africa Solar Industry Association (AFSIA), nine more African countries will soon join this club.
  • These nine countries are Algeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia, Ethiopia, Morocco and Botswana.