The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday urged the government to adopt stricter regulations on the labeling of genetically modified organism (GMO) content in food products.
The foundation tested 18 food samples, including soybeans, soybean-made products and canned corn, that are labeled as non-GMO and found all were in line with labeling regulations stipulated by the Act Governing Food Sanitation and have tested negative for GMO content.
Despite the outcome, foundation food committee member and National Taiwan University assistant professor of agronomy Wang Yue-wen (王裕文) said that the nation’s threshold for required GMO labeling, at 5 percent (of GMO content), needs to be amended.
He said that regulations on GMO labeling were lax because when they were promulgated in 2001, testing technologies were limited, adding that they should be intensified because current methods allow more accurate examinations.
The foundation said that Taiwan is relatively dependent on agricultural imports, and as many other countries can stipulate a labeling threshold of 0.9 percent (EU) or 1 percent (Brazil, Australia and New Zealand), Taiwan should at least have the same standard.
Foundation’s Consumer Reports Magazine publisher Chen Chih-yi (陳智義) said that the current regulations offer consumers limited protection from GMO products as the labeling requirements do not apply to unpacked products such as those sold in traditional wet markets or ready-made food products.
“The soybean milk you drink in the morning [from breakfast restaurants] and the tofu you buy at the market, if made from GM soybeans, are not required to be labeled according to the current regulations,” said Chen.
The range of agricultural products that should abide by GMO labeling regulations should be broadened, the foundation said, emphasizing that the current rule applies only to GM soybeans and corn, but should cover many other GM agricultural products, including tomatoes, papayas, potatoes, rice and rapeseed.