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U.S. company applies to export GM potatoes to Taiwan

2017/06/19 19:23:15

CNA file photo

Taipei, June 19 (CNA) A U.S. firm has submitted an application to export genetically modified potatoes to Taiwan, while the Council of Agriculture said on Monday that it will tighten its regulations governing imports of genetically modified potatoes from the United States by asking food suppliers to label products made using GM potatoes.

The COA comment was made after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Ministry of Health and Welfare posted a notice indicating that a U.S. firm -- SPS International Inc. -- has submitted an application to export a variety of GM potato to Taiwan.

While the FDA said the agency will review the application it reiterated that no decision has been as to when or whether approval will be given. The COA added that a move to label products made with GM potatoes will protect local produced potatoes.

Local media has reported that the first GM potato could be sold in Taiwan in about a year as FDA reviews typically take one to three years.

This is the first application to export GM potatoes to Taiwan after the government lifted a ban on imports of GM raw food materials in 2002.

Since then, Taiwan has allowed imports of 119 varieties of raw food materials in five categories: soybeans, corn, cotton, rape and sugar beets.

Fang Yi-tan (方怡丹), a section chief at the COA's Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA), said that so far the AFA has not been invited by the FDA to jointly review the U.S. firm's application.

Fang said that locally-produced potatoes account for only 30 percent of Taiwan's total consumption of 170,000-180,000 metric tons a year and all locally-produced potatoes are non-GM.

If GM potatoes are allowed into the local market, more and more potato products favored by local consumers, such as French fries and potato chips, will likely be made using GM potatoes in the future, Fang said.

However, the requirement to label food products made from imported materials correctly will protect consumers' right to choose, while also safeguarding the business interests of local potato growers, Fang said.

(By Yang Shu-min and Frances Huang)
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