GM zombies run amok at government house

Greenpeace calls on PM to keep GMO ban in place

Feature story - August 28, 2007
Greenpeace activists dressed up as genetically modified (GM) ‘zombie’ crops – papaya, rice, tomato, pineapple and chili – showed up at the Government House today to give the Cabinet a unique demonstration of what could go wrong should Agriculture Minister Thira Sutabutra succeed in his efforts to have the ban on GM crop field trials lifted.

Greenpeace activist binds GMO 'zombies' in hazardous tape at Government House in Bangkok. Greenpeace activists dress up as genetically modified (GM)'zombie¹ crops ­ papaya, rice, tomato, pineapple and chili demonstrate outside the Government House to show what could go wrong should Agriculture Minister Thira Sutabutra succeed in his efforts to have the ban on GM crop field trials lifted.

Greenpeace activists dressed up as genetically modified (GM) ‘zombie’ crops – papaya, rice, tomato, pineapple and chili – showed up at the Government House today to give the Cabinet a unique demonstration of what could go wrong should Agriculture Minister Thira Sutabutra succeed in his efforts to have the ban on GM crop field trials lifted.

Greenpeace activists dressed up as genetically modified (GM) ‘zombie’ crops – papaya, rice, tomato, pineapple and chili – showed up at the Government House today to give the Cabinet a unique demonstration of what could go wrong should Agriculture Minister Thira Sutabutra succeed in his efforts to have the ban on GM crop field trials lifted.

Yesterday Greenpeace dumped about 11 tons of papaya to block all the gates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives  (MoAC), to remind the government of the  GM papaya scandal in Khon Kaen which remains unresolved due to the specter of genetic contamination still hanging in the province and nearby areas.

"These GMO zombies are here to demonstrate the havoc this dangerous technology can wreak on Thailand's agriculture and environment. Like zombies gone wild, these dangerous genetically modified crops when released in the open, will irreversibly contaminate our crops and the environment, endangering human health and livelihoods of farmers," said Natwipha Ewasakul, Genetic Engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"If the Cabinet lifts the ban in today's meeting, then it is clear that this government is working hand in glove with multinational corporations who stand to benefit most the propagation of GM crops. It also shows that this government is not really interested in protecting the future of Thai agricultural production which relies heavily on export markets favoring untainted farm produce." Natwipha continued.

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. 

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