Consumer groups yesterday protested against the use of genetically modified (GM) soybeans as human food, saying less than 3 percent of soybeans on the market are natural and urging the government to ban GM food for human consumption to prevent potential health risks.
The protest in front of the Legislative Yuan was part of the March Against Monsanto, an international movement against the multinational producer of GM seeds and glyphosate-based herbicide.
Members of the Homemakers United Foundation performed a skit showing how GM crops produced by Monsanto could withstand herbicides the company manufactured, while other “natural” plants and weeds withered when exposed to the herbicides.
Photo: Chen Wei-han, Taipei Times
“Nearly 98 percent of Taiwan’s soybean imports are GM products according to Food and Drug Administration statistics. However, Japan, which is also a leading soybean importer, prohibits GM beans from being used as human food. The government should learn from Japan and limit the use of GM soybeans to protect public health,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Frida Tsai (蔡培慧) said.
The incidence of food allergies in children has increased from 8 percent 20 years ago to 50 percent today, which has been associated with the consumption of GM food products, Chang Gung University toxicology professor Lin Chung-yin (林中英) said.
Many food additives, such as syrup and thickening agents, are made with GM organisms, so it is highly recommended that the government ban GM products as human food, Lin said.
National Taiwan University agronomy professor Warren Kuo (郭華仁) said most imported soybeans are not food-grade beans, but a mixture of feed-grade beans and beans used to produce oil, all of which are genetically modified and fed to the public.
“People do not know they are eating feed-grade beans because of the lack of mandatory labeling laws on such beans. Feed-grade GM beans contain lower protein content, but are high in glyphosate, a widely used herbicide that is possibly carcinogenic,” Kuo said.
The nation requires feed-grade corns, but not feed-grade soybeans, to be labeled, Kuo said, calling for the mandatory labeling of beans.
The maximum residue limit for glyphosate in soybeans is 10 part per million (ppm), which is 100 times higher than the glyphosate limit for rice at 0.1ppm.
“The glyphosate limit for soybean is set based on the American and European standards at 20ppm, but soybean is a staple food in Taiwan, so the limit should be substantially lowered,” Kuo said.
A recent US trade report took Taiwan’s mandatory labeling of GM food products and a ban on GM products from school lunches as a trade barrier, and the government might yield to US pressure in future negotiations, so the public must stand more firmly against GM organisms, DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said.
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
CONTROVERSY: NHIA Director-General Lee Po-chang said an outcry over overseas Taiwanese not paying premiums, but having coverage, is pushing rule amendments Rules changes are being considered that would force Taiwanese who permanently live abroad to pay National Health Insurance (NHI) premiums for the period they were overseas before they can re-enroll in the system, National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) Director-General Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) yesterday said. The case of a married Taiwanese couple who lived in the US for about 30 years, but returned to Taiwan in April and tested positive for COVID-19 has again sparked public debate over why Taiwanese living abroad are allowed to use NHI resources, — although the couple’s expenses were not covered by the NHI. An often cited example
AN EXAMPLE: After attending a memorial service for Lee Teng-hui, Mori said the former president’s career reflected the importance of peace and democracy Using military force to resolve conflict is no longer workable in this new era, which requires peaceful discussion, former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori said yesterday before leaving Taipei. Mori made the remarks at a news conference in front of the EVA Sky Jet Center at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), after leading a delegation to attend the official memorial service for former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水). This was Mori’s second trip to mourn Lee; his last was on Aug. 9. Although he walked with a crutch, Mori, 83, chose to stand right in front of