Taiwan: GM food rules to take effect 6 months early

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday announced that the amended laws concerning the labeling of genetically modified food products will be implemented as early as June.

Originally slated to be implemented on Jan. 1, 2016, the law states that manufacturers should clearly label all food products, additives and loosely packaged products containing genetically modified ingredients. The print on the labels must be over 5 millimeters, and processed foods including soy oil must list any genetically modified ingredients — even if the final product does not contain what was genetically modified, said the FDA.

The new regulations will be put into effect six months early, on June 1 this year, and registered brands of soy powder and soy beans must clearly state their genetically modified ingredients.

“Many legislators have expressed their wishes to see the implementation date shifted a few months earlier, and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin forwarded a proposal that supported the other legislators, leading to our final decision,” said Pan Chih-kuan, director of the FDA’s Food Safety Division.

After the amended regulation is implemented, manufacturers who fail to label their products accordingly will be fined between NT$30,000 and NT$3 million, while those providing false labels will be fined between NT$40,000 and NT$4 million, said Pan.

If products include more than 3 percent of genetically modified ingredients, they must be labeled as a genetically modified. And if genetically modified ingredients make up less than 3 percent, manufacturers are allowed to decide whether to label the product “In Line with National Standards” or to label the actual amount of said ingredients.

According to FDA official Lee Wan-chen, the previous version of the regulations allowed manufacturers to skip labeling products as genetically modified if the product does not contain modified ingredients in its final stage, especially products like soy oil. But the new law calls for manufacturers to label the product as following: “This product is made from genetically modified soy beans, but does not contain the genetically modified parts after being processed.”

“Some types of agricultural products have not been genetically modified yet, but the manufacturers may label them as ‘non-genetically modified’ in hopes of raising the value of the product, leading consumers to believe that another genetically modified type exists,” said Lee.

“Therefore, the law is also amended so that manufacturers are only allowed to label ‘non-genetically modified’ if the said product has been genetically modified internationally.”

Katherine Wei, The China Post, February 27 2015

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