SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA. 1 May, 2008 – Friends of the Earth International and the Korean Federation of Environmental Movements issued today May 1st an urgent call for the South Korean government and food companies to respect the wish of the Korean people by keeping the country´s food supply free of Genetically Modified (GM) foods .

Friends of the Earth International
1 May, 2008

South Korea: Groups call for halt of GM corn imports

A six-year GM food ban is expected to be overturned in South Korea on May 1st, where all corn used in food has been GM-free since 2002. According to the Korea Corn Processing Industry Association (KCPIA) this situation will change with the first shipments of GM corn for food uses due to arrive into Gunsan Harbor on May 1, 2008 and to Incheon Harbor on May 10, 2008.

The introduction of GM corn in South Korea violates the right of the majority of Korean consumers who have clearly expressed their desire to keep their food free of GM corn.

South Korean food companies have been importing all corn for food uses from China, where no corn is genetically modified. Due to the current global food crisis, China recently decided to restrict corn exports, so Korean food companies are now looking to the US for GM corn purchases.
This would constitute a radical change from the solid non-GM food policy taken by Korea since 2002.

Imported GM corn is used in food products such as cookies, breads, beverage and beer. These products are not just for domestic consumption, but also for export markets. There are significant uncertainties over the health and environmental impacts of GM crops and Friends of the Earth International supports the right to ban or restrict the introduction of Genetically-Modified Organisms.

Nizam Mahshar, Asia Pacific region coordinator of the Friends of the Earth International GM campaign said: “The Korean government´s reckless policy on GM corn imports poses a potential threat to the health of the Korean people. Since a large amount of Korean food is exported around the world, the threat extends also to citizens abroad. Korean and other Asian governments should acknowledge that if they have corn shortages it is not due to less corn availability from China but rather to national food policies that ignore their peoples’ food sovereignty.”

Choi Jun Ho, GM campaigner at the Korean Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM) said “the Korean government should declare a ban on imports of GM crops and seek an alternate food source. Korean citizens do not want to have GM food on their dining table.”

“The corn crisis in South Korea confirms that every country should guarantee the food sovereignty of its people. Total reliance on imports of one single crop leaves a nation vulnerable to the caprices of the international agricultural trade market and denies consumers the right to adequate food”, said Juan Lopez Villar, Coordinator of the GM Campaign of Friends of the Earth International.



Kim Choony, head of International Affairs, Korean Federation of Environmental Movements:
Tel: +82 10 2340 7009 (Korean Mobile) or + 82 2 735 7000 (Seoul number)

Nizam Mahshar, Asia Pacific region coordinator, Friends of the Earth International GM campaign : Tel: +60 194 777 755 (Malaysian mobile)

Juan Lopez Villar, coordinator of the Friends of the Earth International GM campaign, Tel: +258 842 420 298 (Mozambique mobile).