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EU’s New Protocol on Basmati Rice Tricky for India

EU to bring in new authenticity protocol for Basmati rice.

Shipra Singh
Rice grains
Rice grains

The European Union (EU) is trying to establish a “New Basmati Authenticity Protocol.” This comes in the wake of India’s effort to obtain a 3-month extension from EU to resolve is dispute with Pakistan over Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for Basmati rice 

The Food Authenticity Research Network, a part of the European Commission, did a detailed project on Basmati rice authenticity from 2016 to 2018.  

Their project focused on “Basmati rice bulked up with cheaper alternatives.” It’s been a decade since the Joint Research Center of European Commission has been doing research in this regard.  

However, in December 2020, EU announced that it is working on a new authenticity protocol for Basmati rice “depending on needs.”  

Expert view on EU’s new protocol  

Trade experts are of the view that EU has come up with this new protocol after India has sought PGI status for its Basmati rice.  

A statement has come from S. Chandrasekaran, who is a trade expert and has authored the book, “Basmati Rice: The Natural History and Geographical Indication.” He says, “When the authenticity of Basmati has already been established by India and it is a part of India’s GI Application to the EU, why should the European Standards Committee want to work on the creation of a new Basmati Authenticity Protocol?”  

“Does it mean European Commission wants to review Indian version of authenticity and subsequently definition?” he adds. 

According to this trade expert, 11 Basmati rice varieties have been validated through DNA testing protocol in 2005. This happened when EU Basmati Import Regime was altered through negotiations on General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Article XXVII. After that, India notified 24 more varieties.  

In the Indo-EU Summit in 2017, India had proposed that its additional rice varieties be included as per the Modification of Concession under GATT.  

From January 1, 2017, EU statistics began to quantify the share of Basmati rice and other aromatic rice such as Jasmine rice in its total imports.  

To facilitate this, it had revised the CN (Combined Nomenclature) code for fragrant/aromatic rice on October 28, 2016 and created new codes for aromatic rice. Experts believe this to be another reason why EU is keen to create a new protocol.  

Why is this a tricky situation for India? 

This situation is tricky for India because now all additional Basmati rice varieties will have to pass the native trait tests.  

Now India needs to take care that no problem crops up in this regard.  

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