Greenpeace blocks Agriculture Ministry Gates

Activists demand that Sutabutra desist from nixing ban on GM crop trials

Feature story - August 27, 2007
Greenpeace activists dumped truckloads of papayas at the main gates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) in Bangkok, to remind the government of the legacy of genetic contamination that exists brought about by its illegal propagation of GM papayas in Khon Kaen province in 2004. The activists are demanding that the existing ban on field trials of genetically modified crops should not be repealed by the Cabinet.

Greenpeace blocks Agriculture Ministry Gates Activists demand that Sutabutra desist from nixing ban on GM crop trials.

Greenpeace blocks Agriculture Ministry Gates Activists demand that Sutabutra desist from nixing ban on GM crop trials.

Greenpeace blocks Agriculture Ministry Gates Activists demand that Sutabutra desist from nixing ban on GM crop trials.

Greenpeace blocks Agriculture Ministry Gates Activists demand that Sutabutra desist from nixing ban on GM crop trials.

Greenpeace blocks Agriculture Ministry Gates Activists demand that Sutabutra desist from nixing ban on GM crop trials.

Greenpeace blocks Agriculture Ministry Gates Activists demand that Sutabutra desist from nixing ban on GM crop trials.

"We are forced to block the gates of MoAC because Minister Thira Sutabutra, seems to be hell-bent on destroying the livelihood of Thai farmers only to serve the interests of  GMO pushers which include a few agro-chemical corporations." said Natwipha Ewasakul, Genetic Engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia."

"His continuing push to repeal the ban on GM crop trials betrays his lack of concern for the future of Thai agricultural production which relies strongly on export markets favoring untainted farm produce. Before he opens the floodgates that would allow more genetic contamination to take place, we dare him to first clean up the mess that his department left behind with their unwanted and illegal GM papaya experiments in Khon Kaen province." she added.

In July 2004, Greenpeace exposed the role of a MoAC-run experimental station in Khon Kaen as the source of genetic contamination of Thai papayas. The station distributed GE contaminated papaya seeds to as many as 2,669 farmers in 37 provinces. The MoAC has so far failed to act to comprehensively rid Thai papaya farms of this widespread GE contamination. Due to the uncertainty caused by this unwanted and illegal contamination, market confidence on Thai papaya exports especially in Europe faltered.

Following an outcry, MoAC was forced to order the destruction of papaya trees in Khon Kaen research station's field trials but Greenpeace found GE papaya in 5 provinces, Kampaengpetch, Kalasin, Chaiyaphoom, Mahasarakham and Rayong and filed a case at the Administrative Court against the Department of Agriculture for dereliction of duty in dealing with the said cases of contamination.

"Instead of learning a  lesson from this widespread and unwanted contamination of papaya brought about by the Department of Agriculture's irresponsible acts,  the Minister is still planning to go ahead and present a resolution to repeal the ban on field trials of GM crops at a cabinet meeting tomorrow. We are here to stop and remind him that his mandate is to save our country's agriculture and environment from the evil designs of vested interests." Natwipha added. 

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