In a one-off move to help the country’s poultry and other animal protein producers, the Indian government has allowed the import of genetically modified (GM) soybean meal. Shipments from Bangladesh and Vietnam have already started and will run until the end of October.

While the country already ships soybeans from Africa, this is first time that imports of GM meals have been approved.

India has been an exporter of soybean meal, however, strong demand on its home market have resulted in shortages and soaring prices and concerns over the sustainability of a number of animal protein sectors in the face of rising feed prices.

The decision to allow important followed discussions over recent weeks between the country’s representative bodies for poultry, aquaculture and dairy production with various government bodies in an attempt the curb spiking domestic prices and resultant losses.

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Halting soaring prices

According to the All India Poultry Breeders Association, soy prices are at their highest level in recent history, gradually rising since the start of the year. In July, for example, the average price of a ton of soybean meal reached INR85,000 (US$1,164), more than double that of last year’s average price of INR32,000.

Poultry feed prices have followed a similar trajectory, rising from INR32,000 in July 2020, to reach INR48,000 in July this year. Without intervention, the industry feared that the price of poultry feed could have reached INR50,000-54,000 by the end of August.

The government has agreed to import 1.2 million tons of meal until the country’s new harvest arrives. Both soybean and soybean meal tend to cost double the world average in India.