The use of soybeans is especially popular in Asian cuisine, ranging from soy sauce used for sushi and other dishes to miso soup and everything in between.
In China, the soybean is especially popular as a cooking oil, as soy oil is the number one seller among all cooking oils.
Until recently, most of the soil used among Chinese for cooking has come from imported genetically engineered U.S. soybeans, but now, the tide is turning as more and more Chinese residents are showing their preference for non-GMO varieties, according to a recent report.
Chinese Dumping GMO Soy as Market Begins to Shift
As noted in a new article from the website EcoWatch.com, the genetically engineered soy oil market is shrinking in China, and it’s not good news for U.S. producers.
Despite proclamations by the Chinese government that GMOs are safe, the country’s residents have become increasingly skeptical of the crops and their promises in recent years. Chinese consumers are reportedly opting for non-GMO alternatives, fueling a “looming crisis” for the GMO soybean producers, according to the article.
Alternatives to GMO soy oil such as non-GMO soy oil, sunflower, peanut and sesame oil grew between 2-6 percent each, data from Euromonitor showed, while GMO soy oil fell one percent to 35.7 billion yuan ($5.19 billion).
The supply chain director of Aramark, a major food service corporation in more than 60 cities in China, said that “non-GMO oil is gradually replacing (soy oil)” to Reuters.
A rise from 10-20 percent a year ago to more than half of customers are now asking for GMO free alternatives, the EcoWatch article continued. By and large Chinese avoid GMOs at a higher rate than the world average, the article added.
While genetically engineered crops make up huge percentages of U.S. farmland including soybeans, corn, and canola (all of which are about 90% or higher in terms of percentage GMO), China restricts and/or bans virtually all genetically engineered food crops for cultivation. A few varieties are imported however including soybeans for animal feed and oil, EcoWatch said.
Worldwide, GMOs are banned in nearly 40 countries in some capacity, and the vast majority of GMO cultivation comes from just a handful of nations including the United States, Brazil and Argentina, where large amounts of corn and soy are used to feed growing animal populations for food production. Companies like Monsanto that produce the crops continue to insist they are needed for “feeding the world,” but the reality is that GMOs are a niche market worldwide.
Chinese have continued to boycott GMOs despite billions in research spending and calls from President Xi Jinping to begin growing GMOs in 2014.
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