More than 90 percent of the nation’s annual import of soybeans, estimated at about 2.3 million tonnes, are genetically modified, industry representatives and experts said.
In addition, about 10 percent of them are processed into all kinds of soybean-based foods, drinks and condiments that are not properly labeled as containing genetically modified organism (GMO) materials or are labeled, but still favored by ill-informed consumers, they added.
According to statistics from the Council of Agriculture, Taiwan’s major suppliers of soybeans are Brazil and the US.
Because imported Brazilian soybeans are not made for processing, Taiwan’s soy food products are mainly made of soybeans imported from the US.
However, experts at a forum on genetically modified foods on Thursday said 90 percent of the soybeans imported from the US are genetically modified, and are grown to be sold and used as livestock feed in the US’ domestic market.
Most Taiwanese consumers are not aware of the health risks of genetically modified foods, the Chinese Tofu Association director-general Chan Wu-hsiung (詹武雄) said.
“Our neighboring countries including Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia and Vietnam have all been weaned from GMO soybeans and started to consume non-GMO soybeans. Why is it that our government has been so hesitant about setting up rules and changing the habit?” Chan said.
National Taiwan University agronomy professor Warren Kuo (郭華仁) presented a research study by French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini and his co-authors on the effect of genetically modified corn on laboratory rats, which concluded that rats fed corn genetically modified for herbicide resistance developed tumors.
Kuo urged the public to take heed of the potential risks accompanied by the consumption of genetically modified foods and called on the government to establish clearer regulations to rein in the genetically modified food industry.