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Organic Milk Fails Certification Test

Posted March. 30, 2006 07:58,   


An investigation has revealed that organic soybean milk and formula manufactured by the country’s leading food companies contain genetically modified organism (GMO) components.

A member of the Agriculture, Forestry, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Committee under the National Assembly and the Grand National Party (GNP) Hong Moon-pyo announced yesterday that monitoring conducted in 2005 for GMO components by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) showed that GMO ingredients were found in a leading organic formula and a leading milk company’s premium organic soybean milk.

In addition, Hong stated that the analysis by the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service (NAQS) showed two other food companies’ organic soybean milk also contained GMO elements.

Under the current Food Safety Law and Practice, GMO components shouldn’t be found in processed food marked as organic.

According to the “guideline to the indication of GMO” under the Agricultural Product Quality Management Law, however, in cases in which there is a separate distribution certificate proving that no GMO elements are among the ingredients, an allowable limit of three percent of GMO components can be accidentally mixed in. The provision means that even without the GMO indication, GMO components could be discovered in processed foods made from imported materials.

A formula maker spokesperson said, “Ever since we were informed of the detection of GMO components last April, our company and outside agencies conducted GMO testing, but we have not discovered any GMO elements in any of those tests,” and claimed that GMO components could be even found in organic formula made from ingredients granted by the government.

In fact, the KFDA’s monitoring result shows that out of 869 products for examination, regardless of whether or not there is organic mark, 198 products (22.8 percent), including two indicated organic, contained GMO elements.

Regarding the types of the 198 products, beverages had the most GMO components with 37.6 percent, followed by special nutritional (31 percent), meat products (29.2 percent), tofu-based products (25 percent), and snacks (23.5 percent). Concerning the soybean, an ingredient to make tofu, all 39 products were detected with GMO components.

The KFDA noted, “We ordered [the company] that violated the duty to indicate an organic mark, to correct its indication system and will also issue correction orders to the ‘Y’ milk company, ‘N’ company and ‘J’ food company, if their products are found to contain GMO components after examination.”

And yet, a KFDA official remarked, “There is a huge gap in marking GMO elements in the food’s ingredients, with Europe at 0.9 percent and Japan and Taiwan both at five percent, respectively,” and explained that the U.S. does not have any obligatory standard for indicating GMO elements as it sees no problem with GMO components at all.

Jung-Eun Lee Na-Yeon Lee lightee@donga.com larosa@donga.com