Government wants more soybeans grown locally

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, May 07, 2014 - Page 3

The government wants to see the nation’s farmers grow more soybeans, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) said yesterday morning.

Annual demand for soybeans is about 230,000 tonnes, but only about 1,800 tonnes were grown domestically last year, Chen told a meeting of the council.

This year’s goal is to grow 3,000 tonnes, Chen said.

The total size of the nation’s soybean farms was about 862 hectares last year — which produced about 1,810 tonnes — and imports made up the gap in supply and demand, he said.

Domestic soybeans can be sold as soon as one month after they are harvested, while imported ones are often imported at least six months after their harvest, he said, adding that the time lag, along with most imported soybeans coming from genetically modified crops, reduces the quality of the imports.

The Homemaker’s Union and Foundation last year said that up to 90 percent of soybeans consumed in Taiwan were imported, and the majority had been genetically modified.

The foundation has launched a petition drive requesting the government to require food producers, manufacturers and importers to clearly mark the genetically modified contents on their product packaging.

The foundation is also encouraging parents to write to schools and demand that their lunch providers only use non-genetically modified soybeans.

The Agriculture and Food Agency said domestically grown soybeans are rich in protein, soy isoflavone and other nutritional elements, and soybean milk made from them has a stronger flavor.

“Domestic soybeans are more natural and can sprout, but some of the imported beans cannot sprout because they were genetically modified to inhibit sprouting,” said Su Chien-chun (蘇建鈞), a young soybean farmer who has a 30 hectare farm that is partially subsidized by the council’s program.