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May 24, 2017

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Group wants removal of GM soybean items from schools

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Homemakers United Foundation (HUF, 主婦聯盟環境保護基金會) started a petition yesterday to demand all schools remove items made with genetically modified (GM) soybeans from their lunch menus and replace them with options made with food-grade soybean.

The HUF urged parents to write letters to schools requesting the removal of GM soybeans from school lunches to avoid putting students at risk of the potential problems resulting from consuming GM foods.

According to the HUF, over 90 percent of the soybeans imported annually are GM, and many countries do not allow these to be used as an ingredient in foods for human consumption.

"Many soybean business owners regard GM soybeans as fodder because they are used to make food for livestock and other animals," HUF Secretary-General Huang Chia-lin (黃嘉琳) said.

"Even though experts can't confirm how GM foods will affect human bodies, it is still not a good idea to let students be exposed to the risks that such foods pose," Huang said

Huang said that parents should do more research on the content of the school lunches that their children eat nearly every day to make sure that children are receiving healthy options.

Wang Hui-ying (王慧英) of the Department of Health's Food and Drug Administration said that soybeans imported to Taiwan are not categorized as food-grade or fodder.

"All imported GM soybeans have to meet the sanitation standard for general foods and safety inspection to receive the permit to be put on the market," said Wang.

Lin Ja-liang (林杰樑), head of the Department of Nephrology and the Division of Clinical Toxicology at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said that GM soybeans are controversial because of the possibility they may trigger allergic reactions and affecting some people's immune systems.

"The immune systems of children are still developing," Lin said, "so it is better to lower the amount of GM soybeans that they consume."

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