Japan's Largest Soybean Company Bans GE Soybeans

Headline: Japan food maker to drop gene-altered soybeans
Wire Service: RTw (Reuters World Report)
Date: Wed, Sep 1, 1999

TOKYO, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Japan's largest maker of soybean protein food
products, Fuji Oil Co Ltd, said on Wednesday the group will stop using
genetically modified (GM) soybeans by next April due to consumer concern
over the safety of bioengineered crops.
Fuji Oil will start switching to non-GM soybeans in the October-March
period, a company spokesman said. Until now Fuji Oil has not distinguished
between GM and non-GM soybeans when placing orders.
The Fuji Oil group uses 80,000-100,000 tonnes of soybeans annually,
most of which is imported from the United States.
Fuji Oil plans to buy non-GM soybeans imported from the United States
by the Japanese trading house Itochu Corp. Fuji Oil is a member of the
Itochu group of companies.
Japan imported 2.85 million tonnes of soybeans in the first seven
months of 1999. Traders expect 75-80 percent will be used for oil
production and the rest for other food products, such as tofu.
Last month several of Japan's largest breweries announced plans to
stop using genetically altered corn, and ingredients made from such corn,
in their operations.
Japan has approved 22 varieties of six GM crops -- soybeans, corn,
rapeseed, potatoes, cotton and tomatoes-- under its food safety guidelines
for import and sale.
The government last month decided to impose labelling requirements on
these crops and food products made from them, in order to allow consumers
to make an informed choice. Foods made from soybean protein are subject to
the label requirement.
The government has exempted some processed food products, such as
vegetable oil, because existing technology cannot determine whether they
were made using genetically altered ingredients.