Restaurants join Greenpeace in campaign to promote Thai rice, reject GMOs

Feature story - April 11, 2008
Nine popular restaurants in Bangkok have signed up to support the "GMO-Free Restaurants" campaign initiated by Greenpeace, which aims to generate greater pride for Thai rice amongst Thai consumers and protect the country's staple from the threats of genetic modification.

Nine popular restaurants in Bangkok join the "GMO-Free Restaurants" campaign initated by Greenpeace,which aims to generate greater pride for Thai rice , to promote Thai rice and reject GMOs.

"We Thais should be proud of our rice which is one of the best - if not the best - rice in the world.  Genetically engineered rice, promoted and patented by multinational companies, will only undermine Thai sovereignty over our own rice and contaminate the nation's food supply," said Natwipha Ewasakul, Genetic Engineering Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Thailand, the world's top rice exporter which produces some of the best rice varieties, has been a target of multi-national biotechnology companies trying to corner the Kingdom's food production.  More than 95 percent of all GMO crops are owned and patented by less than ten companies, such as Monsanto.

Greenpeace is inviting Thai restaurants to help raise awareness all over the country against the pitfalls and risks associated with GMOs, which have never been proven safe for human consumption and whose impacts on the  environment are irreversible.  Thai restaurants, who care to provide safe food to the public and who are proud to promote the outstanding qualities of Thai rice, are welcome to be part of this campaign.

"I'm really happy to be a part of this project to raise awareness among Thai people and warn them of potential dangers to our food. I think it's going to be a sad story if the propagation of Thai rice would end up in the hands of foreign and multinational interests. Thai farmers are the backbones of the Kingdom and they have their own wisdom. I don't want to see this local wisdom patented and lost for the farang's benefit," said Pon Tantasathien, the celebrity owner of Spring &  Summer Restaurant.

"It's our right to choose and eat what we want to. We don't need to be forced or pushed by somebody else. To me, it's quite clear that some corporations like Monsanto want to dominate and the control the world 's food supply including ours. We have many traditional rice varieties and we should continue to nurture and protect them for future Thai generations," said Puang-rat Rattanapoom, manager of Krua Khun Ya.

Consumers can now view a list of GMO-Free Restaurants at www.truefood.org

A Greenpeace report found that governments, farmers and consumers throughout the world recognize that GMOs are unreliable, unviable or downright dangerous. In recent months, for example, 41 of the world's biggest rice exporters, processors and retailers issued written commitments to stay GMO-free. Thailand and Vietnam, respectively the  world's first and second largest exporters of rice, also recently signed a memorandum of understanding to shun GMO rice.

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