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Japan To Double Non-GM Soy Reserve

Japan will spend $3 million to double reserves of non-genetically modified soybeans to 7,200 tonnes in the year starting in April, the Ministry of Agriculture said March 17.

The ministry’s increased purchase of more costly non-GM soybean for usage in traditional food such as tofu means its spending would rise to 291 million yen ($2.96 million) from 277 million yen in the past year.

In fiscal 2008-09, Japan held 31,000 tonnes of soybeans as a national reserve, equivalent to two-week local consumption. Of the total, 3,600 tonnes were non-GM types. In addition, Japanese food manufacturers held stocks to meet 17 days of domestic demand, which are all non-GM soybeans.

The Japanese government plans to make all of the remaining soybeans GM free in the year starting in April 2013, while maintaining the total unchanged at 31,000 tonnes.

Japan, which relies more than 90 per cent of soybean demand from abroad, started to hold non-GM types as a national reserve in fiscal 2006-07, given a speedy expansion of biotech crop production around the globe.

Genetically altered soybeans are now the most popular biotech crop and in 2008 accounted to 70 per cent of global soybean acreage, according to the industry-backed International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA)

But consumers here remained reluctant to buy food made from GM crops. A Farm Ministry survey released in February showed 80 per cent of the respondents said they do not want to buy GM soy-origin products even though they are cheaper than those made from non-GM soybeans.

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