World’s biggest rice exporter sets GE-free rice policy

Greenpeace calls on Philippine government to follow Thai example

Press release - June 2, 2011
Greenpeace today called on the Philippine government to follow the example of Thailand, the world’s top rice exporter, and commit to keep rice production free of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). The call came as farmers and environmental activists in Thailand celebrated Thai Rice and Farmers’ Day commending the country’s GE-free rice policy.

The GE-free rice policy, a key strategy in Thailand’s Rice Masterplan, not only protects rice farmers and consumers, but also safeguards Thailand’s thousands-year old rice heritage from the inherent risks posed by genetically-engineered (GE) crops.  The strategy is widely seen as an acknowledgement embedded in government policy that GE crops are unnecessary and a risk to sustainable future for farming.

“This strategy gives Southeast Asia’s rice farmers and consumers reason to celebrate -- and it’s a blow for unscrupulous GMO crop promoters.  A major global rice producer and exporter acknowledges that GMOs are a bad option for rice production.  The Department of Agriculture should follow the Thai example and declare their commitment to keep rice farming sustainable and rice crops free of environmental and health risks associated with GE crops,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace maintains that GMOs threaten the future and biodiversity of rice, and will make farming dependent on agricultural inputs exclusively owned by giant multinational corporations who control GMO technologies.

Rice is the staple diet in Southeast Asia.  But countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are being targeted by GMO promoters as guinea pigs for experimental—and risky—GE crops.  Unchecked and unregulated corporate interest has made the Philippines a particularly vulnerable target.   In 2007, tons of GMO-contaminated rice from Bayer was shipped undetected to the country from the US.  The said rice was sold and distributed in the Philippines, despite the fact that it was unapproved and illegal for human consumption.

The Thai GE-free policy is committed to strengthening the nation’s rice production while promoting farmers’ livelihoods and consumer confidence.  Keeping Thai rice GMO-free means that Thailand maintains its global leadership in rice production.  Currently, GMO promoters are studying the release of experimental GMO rice strains in the Philippines and neighbouring ASEAN countries, a move that will expose valuable rice varieties to massive contamination.

Greenpeace is campaigning for GMO-free crop and food production grounded on the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity, and providing all people access to safe and nutritious food.

“This shows how the need for agriculture that is good for the planet and people is important to the country and the economy.  But it’s not just Thailand who stands to benefit from such a bold move.  Consumers around the world know that they can trust Thai rice.  GMO crops are bad for food and farming and this demand is shared by people throughout the region and the world,” said Ocampo.

As part of the events in Bangkok, Greenpeace unveiled a gigantic eco-friendly 3D artwork of an organic farm, an illustration of healthy, ecological farming. The artwork, first launched with a signature petition for GE-free farming by 1 million people in front of the European Commission in Brussels in December 2010, stands for the millions of people around the world who aspire for the sustainable and secure future of food.


For more information:

Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +63917 8110469, (632) 332 1807 loc 112,

JP Agcaoili, Media Campaigner, +63917 6312750, (632) 332 1807 loc 121,