Greenpeace Thai activists seal off the GE papaya at the Khon Kaen agricultural research station of the Department of Agriculture.
Independent laboratory tests carried out in Hong Kong showed
that packages of papaya seeds being sold by the Department of
Agriculture's research station in the province of Khon Kaen
contained GE seeds. We identified one of the fields at the research
station as the source of the GE seeds. It turns out that the
experimental field was only segregated from the other papaya by
barbed wire and banana trees.
"This is potentially one of the worst cases of genetic
contamination of a major food crop in Asia as this station is one
of the largest suppliers of papaya seeds in the country," said
Varoonvarn Svangsopakul, our GE campaigner in Southeast Asia. "This
is the hard evidence we needed to prove that GE contamination has
broken in Thailand."
Thai activists sealed off the GE papaya at the agricultural
research station of the Department of Agriculture. Dressed in
protective suits they removed the GE papaya fruit from the trees
then secured them in hazardous material containers. They also
demanded that the government complete this process and immediately
destroy all papaya trees, fruit, seedlings, and seeds in the Khon
Kaen research station to prevent further contamination.
"The purpose of the ban on field trials imposed in 2001 was to
prevent GE contamination. But we now have proof that not only has
this ban failed, but the Department of Agriculture itself has
committed a crime that threatens an essential food with widespread
contamination," said Svangsopakul.
Last year we warned the Thai public of the environmental and
health risks posed by GE papaya and called on the government to
stop all planting of the crop anywhere in the country. We also
pointed to Hawaii as an example of GE papaya gone wrong.
When GE papaya was introduced into Hawaii the biotech industry
said it was a 'solution' to the papaya ringspot virus problem. But
instead it has caused serious environmental and economic problems
for farmers. The selling price of GE papaya has fallen to 30-40
percent below production costs, and the price that farmers get for
their GE papaya is 600 percent lower than the price for organic
The consequences of growing GE papaya in Thailand are feared to
be even more serious than Hawaii. Not only is green papaya eaten as
a daily staple food, it is also grown everywhere - in farmers'
fields, schoolyards and gardens.
"We've been calling for an end to this genetic experiment on the
grounds that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are
uncontrollable. There can no longer be any doubt that this is true.
And the government must take action to stop this experiment now,"
said Jiragorn Gajaseni, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast
Asia. "The government must act now to impose a total ban on GE
field trials, including those in government restricted areas and
experimental stations, and must launch an investigation into this
Our campaigners in Thailand have revealed that genetically
engineered (GE) papaya has been grown for at least 12 months on a
farm in the province of Khon Kaen in a widening GE contamination
Independent laboratory test results dated 24 June 2004 show that
the fruit of a papaya tree on a local farmer's land is GE. The GE
papaya tree is 12 months old and was grown from papaya seeds
purchased from the government research station in June 2003.
"All farmers who have purchased papaya seeds from the research
station have a right to know whether GE papaya trees are growing on
their land and whether their families are already eating GE papaya.
Farmers such as this one is a victim of the environmental crime
committed by the Department of Agriculture, " said Jiragorn
Gajaseni, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Click here to see a map showing the spread of contamination in
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