Starting on Jan. 1 next year, imported rice that is found to contain Taiwanese variants used without approval is to be banned, the Council of Agriculture said on Saturday, citing the case of a Taiwanese variant found in imported Vietnamese rice.
The rice imported from Vietnam last year was found to contain rice variety Tainan No. 11, which has not been approved for export, the council said.
Vietnam, Thailand, the US and Australia are the main exporters of rice to Taiwan, and samples are regularly taken for testing, Agriculture and Food Agency Deputy Director-General Juang Lao-dar (莊老達) said.
Since Tainan No. 11 is a primary variety of the domestic rice industry, and it costs significantly more than Southeast Asian varieties, it has never been approved for export, Juang said.
It is important for the government to protect Taiwanese rice and to ensure fair competition, he said, adding that the new regulations would help ensure that.
Under the regulations, any imported rice — including white rice, whole-grain rice, glutinous rice or products containing those items — found containing Taiwanese varieties that have not been approved for export would be banned, Juang said.
The regulations would be implemented alongside tariff quota regulations and any banned imports would be returned to the country of origin, he said.
“Returned shipments create a huge loss for businesses, so this will act as a deterrent,” Juang said, adding that businesses whose imports breach the regulations would be fined up to NT$1.5 million (US$51,456) and the rice confiscated in accordance with the Plant Variety and Plant Seed Act (植物品種及種苗法).
Asked whether the regulations would be applied to other agricultural products, Juang said that most fruits and vegetables are cross-pollinated and even if varieties were illegally exported they could only be grown for one generation.
There have been no cases of domestic fruit varieties being produced abroad and imported to Taiwan, he said, adding that the council would continue to monitor the situation.
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