Greenpeace exposes dumping of GE soy in Thailand

Press release - 19 November, 2003
The environmental group Greenpeace today used inflatable boats off the port of Srichang Island, Thailand, to intercept a large bulk-carrier, the MV Poseidon, transporting genetically engineered (GE) soy from Argentina to Thailand. Activists painted a giant “X’ and the letters “GMOs’ on the hull of the ship, exposing that Thailand has become the dumping ground of GE soy from the United States and Argentina. Activists also put a cordon of flags declaring “Stop GMO Dumping’ in front of the ship to mark it as a quarantine zone.

Greenpeace activists paint a giant 'X' and the letters 'GMOs' on the hull of the MV Poseidon, a bulk-carrier transporting genetically engineered (GE) soy from Argentina to Thailand.

"This is one of many GE soy shipments entering Thailand. Through different channels they contaminate the food chain and end up on supermarket shelves, but the Thai public does not know which products are contaminated or how it got there. The weak GE labeling regulation does not give the public a genuine right to know and right to reject GE food,' said Varoonvarn Svangsopakul, Genetic Engineering Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Thailand imports more than 1 million tons of soya every year, most of it from Argentina and the US (1). These two countries are the world´s largest producers and exporters of GE soy that was developed by Monsanto to resist spraying with the company´s own weedkiller Roundup. GE soy accounts for 99 percent of all soy grown in Argentina and 80 percent in the US.

In recent weeks, Greenpeace has found an increase in the amount of GE soy in several well-known food products in Thailand without GMO labels, including Nestle´s "Nesvita' and Tesco "Chinese Sausage'.

"Thailand and other Asian countries increasingly risk to become the dumping ground of GMOs that are rejected by Europe. Thai consumers want the right to say no to GMOs, but transnational food companies continue to exploit loopholes in Thailand´s GMO regulations. These companies are actually introducing new products containing large amounts of GE soya,' Varoonvarn said.

GMOs pose serious environmental risks and have not been proven safe for human consumption. Thailand still maintains a ban on growing GE crops, which is being fiercely contested by Monsanto that last month initiated a GE crop promotion campaign in Pak Chong and Nakhon Ratchsima in Northeast Thailand, handing out free umbrellas, T-shirts and plastic buckets to farmers (2).

"The growing of GE crops are banned in Thailand for a good reason, and we should not encourage the growing of GE crops elsewhere by allowing imports from the US and Argentina. Imports of GE soy are unnecessary and merely put the Thai public at risk, and non-GE soy can readily be sourced from places such as China and Brazil (3),' added Varoonvarn.

Notes: 1) In 2002, Thailand imported 393,000 tons of soya from Argentina and 683,000 tonnes from the US. See attached fact sheet.2) See articles in The Nation and The Bangkok Post, both from 15 November 2003.3) Non-GE soya is available from the said countries. Details are contained on the fact sheet.