Published: Wednesday 15 December 1999

A guideline for labeling food products containing genetically-modified organisms (gmos) will be prepared soon by the agriculture ministry of South Korea. This decision was taken after a survey conducted by the state-run Korea Consumer Protection Board (kcpb) found that 94.7 per cent of the respondents wanted gm labeling, according to a news agency report.

The guidelines will decide what kinds of agricultural products should be labeled, which institution would examine these products and what measures will be taken if they are found to contain gmos. A ministry official said products like soybean or corn would be labeled and the state-run National Agricultural Product Quality Management Service will be responsible for examining the products.

The kcpb said that 18 of 22 brands of tofu or soybean curd on sale in the domestic market include gmos. In another test on us-raised soybeans imported in March 1999, kcpb found 114 of the 300 soybean samples containing gmos. In a test on 30 different brands of soybeans, the group found gmos in two types, both imported. It said the remaining 28 brands -- which were local did not have gmos. South Korea's annual demand for soybeans in 1998 totalled 1.644 million tonnes and 90.5 per cent of the total demand was met by imports, data from the country's agriculture ministry showed. The data also showed that the country's annual demand for corn in 1998 was 7.496 million tonnes, of which 98.8 per cent was imported.

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