Another country is taking action on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Taiwan has banned schools across the nation from serving GMOs to students, citing health and safety concerns. Taiwanese legislature passed amendments to the School Health Act a few weeks ago to stamp out raw genetically modified ingredients as well as processed food containing GMOs.
The ban affects cafeterias and food stands in every elementary school, middle school and high school in Taiwan, The China Post reported. Schools have traditionally served food products such as soybeans, corn, salmon, tofu and soy milk that contain GMOs.
“Soy is a major ingredient in Taiwan’s school lunches,” said Lin Shu-fen of the Democratic Progressive Party, who advocated for the passage of the bill. “Genetically modified soy has been shown to contains toxic residue from pesticides.”
It’s not just schoolchildren eating tons of GMO soy. Taiwan, as a whole, is a large consumer of the crop. According to Agri-View, “Taiwan consumes more than 8 million bushels of soybeans used in soy foods. Ninety-five percent of those 8 million bushels originate in the U.S., and 7.2 million bushels of those soybeans are GMO soybeans from the U.S.”
Lin also said that most genetically modified crops are grown using chemical herbicides and stored and shipped through a procedure fit for animal feed, according to Focus Taiwan.
Lin also argued that if such crops were used in meals for schoolchildren, it would have a huge impact on their physical and psychological health.
Education Minister Wu Se-hwa reportedly said that the Taiwanese government is very concerned about students’ health and encouraged schools to prioritize locally grown farm produce and food ingredients instead.
The Ministry of Education indicated that the new GMO ban will start next semester at the earliest and result in a price hike of around NT$5 per meal (about US$0.15), the China Post reported.
As a result, the Ministry of Education’s budget for subsidizing school meals for 262,000 financially disadvantaged elementary and junior school students will increase by NT$235.8 million (US$7.17 million) a year, a Ministry official said.
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Read more at Organic Consumers