Greenpeace delivers thousands of anti- GMO postcards to FDA

Thai consumers sign up to demand strict labeling

Feature story - September 26, 2001
Greenpeace today delivered its strongest message thus far to the Thai Food and Drug Administration by delivering over 10,000 postcards containing the sentiments of Thai consumers opposed to genetically modified organisms and demanding stricter and tighter labeling rules. Greenpeace activists personally delivered thousands of anti- GMO postcards to the Secretary of Thai FDA to demonstrate the overwhelming concern of the Thai public against the dangers of GMOs. Thousands of Thai consumers have signed up to the anti- GMO petition creatively contained in the postcards which convey their demands for consumer rights protection and the immediate elimination of genetically engineered ingredients in food products.

More than 20 Greenpeace activists gathered in front of the Thai FDA building and delivered the thousands of postcards contained in huge traditional baskets. The activists then marched towards the entrance of the building carrying banners in Thai Northern style with bamboo sticks bearing postcards and messages such as: Our Voice does matter, Label must be clear, Every GMO ingredient must be labelled and, Don't turn your back on the people.

"We have come here to highlight several months of work to push for stronger and more progressive labeling rules for the country. Greenpeace want to convey the overwhelming voices of dissent of Thai people to the current labeling law draft. We want the Thai FDA to promise us and the thousands of consumers out there that their voices will be heard. We demand a stricter and stronger mandatory labeling regime now," said Auaiporn Suthonthayakorn, Genetic Engineering Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"We call on the Thai government to take this significant first step via a mandatory labeling law to effectively protect Thai consumers from the unwanted and unavoidable risks of genetically engineered food. This move will go well with the Thai government's earlier decision to ban the commercial growing of GM crops. Until now, there is still no policy that regulates imported food items and ingredients that may have been derived from GMOs " added Suthonthayakorn.

In earlier dialogues and fora, Greenpeace has repeatedly proposed to the Thai FDA to improve the mandatory labeling law by adopting the "traceability" principle to reduce the lengthy process of laboratory testing for food products contaminated with GMOS.

"There is a growing global demand for labeling and certification of food as GE-free. In Thailand, a survey commissioned by Greenpeace shows the overwhelming clamor of the Thai people for a full and strict labeling system for ingredients derived from GMOs. Industrial and government must stop treating Thai consumers as second-class citizens. We deserve better. We take this opportunity to remind the authorities that GE- contaminated baby food products still being sold in Thai supermarkets should be eliminated, added Suthonthanyakorn.

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Endnotes:

In April 2001, a public outcry forced the Minister of Public Health to announce that the Thai government would institute a mandatory labeling regulation covering genetically modified food. Earlier, Greenpeace Southeast Asia confirmed the presence of GM food in Thai supermarkets and estimates that about one out of four processed food items are already contaminated.

On 5th September, 2001 Thai FDA held the public meeting to review the draft of GMOs labeling law and Greenpeace submitted its critique and argued that the draft regulation does very little to protect the rights and welfare of Thai consumers. Instead, it is seen as one that serves the interests of the multinational biotech and food companies, who still insist on feeding the Thai public with significant quantities of GMOs.