Tue, Oct 25, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Calls for stricter soybean classification

BEAN COUNTER:While differentiating between food-grade and feed-grade soybeans is possible, it would require additional funding, a Customs Administration official said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Frida Tsai, second left, at a news conference in Taipei yesterday calls on the Customs Administration to classify imported soybeans as either feed-grade or food-grade.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

While nearly 80 percent of soybeans used for food are genetically modified, the Customs Administration should strictly classify imported soybeans into different grades for different uses, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Frida Tsai (蔡培慧) said yesterday.

A total of 2.685 million tonnes of soybeans were imported last year, but only 59,000 tonnes were non-genetically modified soybeans, she said, adding that soybeans are a common food ingredient.

According to a US agricultural report, Taiwanese consume approximately 280,000 tonnes of soybeans as food per year, which is much higher than the amount of non-genetically modified imported soybeans.

“Soybeans should be classified and controlled when they are being imported,” Tsai said, adding that the Customs Administration should differentiate between “food-grade” and “feed-grade” soybeans, as well as “genetically modified” and “non-genetically modified” soybeans, to ensure food safety.

She suggested the agency use specialized commodity codes for the different types of soybeans.

Tsai also urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate that soybeans for food use must be non-genetically modified food-grade soybeans.

Genetically modified food-grade soybeans should only be used for making cooking oil, while feed-grade soybeans should not be made into any type of food, Tsai said.

A report made by Homemakers United Foundation earlier this year cited a Japanese study by the US Soybean Export Council, in which it said Japan imports about 3 million tonnes of soybeans per year, with 66 percent used for making cooking oil, 4 percent for animal feed and 30 percent for food use — such as making tofu, miso, natto and soy sauce.

Most of the direct food-use soybeans were non-genetically modified, it said.

Customs Administration Deputy Director-General Hsieh Ling-yuan (謝鈴媛) said imported soybeans are classified into non-genetically modified and genetically modified soybeans, and that differentiating between food-grade and feed-grade soybeans is technically possible, but it would require extra funding because custom officers are not able to tell them apart by sight.

FDA official Chen Hsin-cheng (陳信誠) said that it is possible to use different codes for the different types of imported soybeans and the agency would discuss the issue with the Council of Agriculture.

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