Ministry of Agriculture revives GE-contamination threat in Thailand

Press release - May 15, 2007
Greenpeace today cautioned Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly (NLA) against moves by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to lift the existing ban on open field trials of genetically modified organisms in the country. The environmental group pointed out that the country is still suffering from contamination by genetically engineered (GE) papaya, a serious environmental problem caused by irresponsible experiments previously conducted by the Department of Agriculture.

“The NLA must reject this dangerous proposal from the Ministry of Agriculture. It is the duty of the government to protect the interest of the Thai public against GE crops which can pose threats not only to people’s health and the environment but to the country’s economy as well. Thailand should not adopt the direction of GE agriculture as global rejection of GE crops is higher than ever. GE crops will undermine our country’s leadership in agricultural production with the very real danger that Thailand will lose important markets for our key agricultural produce due to genetic contamination. Once GMOs are released into the open, the ensuing contamination is virtually impossible to reverse,” said Natwipha Ewasakul, Genetic Engineering Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

 

In July 2004, Greenpeace exposed the role of an MOA-affiliated 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 MOA has so far failed to act to comprehensively rid Thai papaya farms of this widespread GE contamination.

 

“It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Agriculture is furthering the interests of the GE industry in addition to its dereliction of duty with regards to the GE papaya contamination problem in the country. We reiterate our call for the Thai government to quickly investigate the Ministry of Agriculture and punish those involved in the GE papaya contamination scandal,” Natwipha added. 

 

A recent Greenpeace report [1]  found that governments, farmers and consumers throughout the world recognise that GE crops 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 GE-free. Thailand and Vietnam, respectively the world’s first and second largest exporters of rice, also recently signed a memorandum of understanding to shun GE rice. These rejections came as a result of rogue GE crop contamination in different parts of the world such as the US, China, EU and the Philippines – which has threatened the global food chain.

 

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Natwipha Ewasakul, Genetic Engineering Campaigner, +6685 256 8854

Arthur Jones Dionio, Communications Manager, +6681 4451398

Greenpeace office number: 02 3571921

www.greenpeace.or.th

Notes: 1) The ‘Global status of genetically engineered crops’ provides solid evidence that resistance to genetically engineered crops continues to grow, amongst farmers, consumers and governments. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/global-status-of-genetically-e