Responding to citizen outcry, Japan has proposed mandatory labeling of some genetically modified foods by April 2001, though the move could trigger a trade dispute with the U.S. Japan is the largest importer of U.S. food products, purchasing a significant amount of soybeans and corn in particular. More than half of all U.S. soybeans and some one-third of U.S. corn are genetically modified. Japan’s consumer groups say the proposal — which would only require the labeling of 28 food items, primarily soybean products — is a weak and insufficient compromise. Major Japanese supermarkets have begun to avoid carrying tofu made with genetically modified soybeans and some are now labeling their products as GM-free. Reacting to Japan’s decision, as well as citizen fears in Europe, some U.S. farmers are becoming cautious about planting more acres with genetically modified soybeans.

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