Majority of Thais want strict label on all GMO-contaminated food

Feature story - May 10, 2006
Survey says that majority of Thai citizens want strict labeling on all food tainted with at least 1 percent of genetically modified organisms in its ingredients.

Patwajee Srisuwan of Greenpeace Southeast Asia states that people must be protected and warned because GMOs have not undergone proper research nor clinical tests before being released for consumption.

A new survey revealed today that the majority of Thai citizens want strict labeling on all food tainted with at least 1 percent of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in its ingredients.

The survey also revealed that an astonishing 74 percent of the respondents do not know that the labeling regulation on GMO-contaminated food exists, three years after it took effect.

The survey conducted by ABAC Poll on 2,071 people aged 18 to 60 years old in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Songkhla and Chonburi yielded the following results:

    -    Only 11.5 percent have ever seen products with GMO labels

    -    88.5% have not seen or are not sure if they have seen labels printed on food containing GMOs

    -    74.5% of respondents do not know of the GMO labeling law enacted by the government since 2003

    -    72.2% want the current regulation to be modified to force companies to label products if they contain 1% or more GMO-contaminated ingredients.

"For a country which cares so much about the safety of our food, the percentage of Thais who don't know that the GMO labeling regulation exists is very high.  The majority of Thai consumers also indicated they want strict labeling laws for food which contain GMOs," said Dr Noppadol Kannika, Director of ABAC Poll Research of Assumption University.

Reacting to the new findings, Sairoong Thongplon, manager of the Confederation of Consumer Organizations, said: "GMO labels must be clear and prominently colored. The label should be applied to all products containing GMOs. In addition, the Thai government mush push for strict GMO standards in the international food trade arena."

Enacted by Ministry of Public Health on May 11, 2003, Thailand's labeling regulation is one of weakest in the world and has provided loopholes for food companies to dump their GMO products - rejected in the EU and Japan - into Thailand.

The regulation stipulates that only the top 3 main ingredients have to be tested for GMO content (even if the 4th ingredient contains GMOs, it will escape labeling). GMO contamination of up to 5% is allowed in these 3 main ingredients; and only genetically engineered soya and genetically engineered corn is covered. Other genetically modified food crops are ignored.

"The FDA has failed to inform the public about their rights to reject food containing GMOs. The government must use this survey as a basis for a strict labeling law, requiring every food product with more than 1 percent GMO ingredients to be labeled prominently. People must

be protected and warned because GMOs have not undergone proper research nor clinical tests before being released for consumption," said Patwajee Srisuwan of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

For more information:

Dr Noppadol Kannika, Director of ABAC Poll Research of Assumption University. Tel. 0 1313 7509

Sairoong Thongplon, Manager of the Confederation of Consumer Organizations. Tel. 0 5921 2233

Patwajee Srisuwan, Genetic Engineering Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia. Tel 0 9476 7070

Ua-phan Chamnan-ua, Media Campaigner. Tel 0 1928 2426

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