Thailand’s rice in Guinness World Records

Greenpeace calls for urgent protection of Thai rice from GMO contamination

Feature story - January 23, 2009
Greenpeace unveiled the Guinness World Record certifying Thailand as the largest exporter of rice in the world. Greenpeace nominated Thailand for this prestigious record to generate greater pride about Thai rice and raise people’s awareness on the need to protect it from the dangers of genetic contamination.

Greenpeace today unveiled the Guinness World record certifying Thailand as the largest exporter of rice in the world, Greenpeace nominated Thailand for this prestigious record to generated greater pride about Thai rice and raise people’s awareness on the need to protect it from the dangers of genetic contamination.

Thailand exported 8,094,000 tonnes of rice in 2007, which amounts to 27 percent of all rice traded in world markets.

"The Guinness World Record is an important recognition that Thai rice is one of the best rice in the world. But Greenpeace has concerns because multinational agro-chemical companies are desperately trying to introduce genetically engineered rice here to gain control of Thai rice," said Natwipha Ewasakul, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Accompanying the World Record celebration is an exhibition organized by Greenpeace at CentralWorld which traces the history and tradition of Thai rice, and the profound relationship between Thai people and their staple diet. The exhibition also highlights the threats and dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the inherent risks associated with GMO rice.

Genetic engineering enables scientists to create patented plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occur naturally. GMOs can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating the natural environment in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way.

In 2006, when the experimental GMO rice Liberty Link (LL601), owned by Bayer Corp, contaminated American rice, it triggered a USD$1.2 billion financial disaster in the US rice industry. Sixty three percent of US rice exports were affected, and contamination spread to at least 30 countries, from Austria to the Philippines to United Arab Emirates. There was massive recall and American farmers had sued Bayer for this contamination.

Thailand has long been a target of multi-national biotechnology companies trying to corner the Kingdom's food production.  More than 95 percent of all GMO crops, along with the processes of creating them, are owned and patented by less than 10 multinational companies.

Thankfully, the Rice Exporter's Association and its partners have slammed their doors against GMO rice.

"The Thai Rice Exporter's Association along with 41 of the world's biggest rice exporters, processors and retailers have committed to not trading in any type of genetically engineered rice. To protect our interests as the world's largest exporter of rice, it is important that the government of Thailand bans GMO rice right away," added Natwipha

The Guinness World Records and Rice exhibition is open to public free of charge from January 22-Jan25 at 6th Floor, Beacon Zone, CentralWorld.

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