[Gen-Info] Zulassung von GM Crops in Thailand (fwd)

Klaus Schramm 078222664-0001 at t-online.de
Di Aug 31 18:40:59 CEST 2004

Karsten Wolff schrieb:

Hallo Klaus,
ich habe den Artikel noch mal in die Mail kopiert; den Original-Artikel mit 
vielen Links findest du auf der NGIN-Homepage unter 
Viele Gruesse
:-) Karsten

Thailand beugt sich US-amerikanischem Druck – Zulassung von Gentech-Crops in 
Kürze erwartet.
Der thailändische Ministerpräsident Thaksin Shinawatra wird in Kürze grünes 
Licht für die Zulassung von gentechnisch manipulierten Pflanzen in Thailand 
geben. Hintergrund hierfür ist der massive Druck, der von seiten der US 
Gentech-Lobby seit längerem ausgeübt wird. Hierzu ein umfassender Artikel von 
NGIN (Englisch).

(NGIN, August 2008)

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on 20 August bestowed the government's 
blessing on the planting and trading of GM crops by promising to revoke an 
earlier ban. The ban only permits GM crops to be grown in laboratories for 
experimental purposes but the revision would allow open planting and 
commercialisation of GM crops.
However, the go-ahead has been stalled by protests. The Cabinet was expected to 
ratify the policy at its weekly meeting on Tuesday. But after encountering 
strong opposition from exporters, farmers, environmentalists and consumer 
groups, the Cabinet put the issue on hold.
Rushing to get their foot in the door, Monsanto on 25 August sent delegates to 
meet senior officials from the Agriculture Ministry. "The company's 
representative from Singapore met with me seeking a clear policy on field 
testing," said Chawanwut Chainuwut, the ministry's deputy secretary-general. 

"My reply will depend on the Cabinet," he said.

The latest news from Thailand follows the extraordinary trade pressures brought 
to bear ever since Thailand introduced a modicum of GM food labelling and its 
moratorium on growing GM crops.
In 2001 the head of the Thai Food and Drug Administration revealed how a 
visiting US trade delegation had threatened trade sanctions against Thai 
imports, worth about US$8.7bn a year, if labelling went ahead. The threats to 
invoke Section 301 of the US trade laws were made during an official visit.
Then earlier this year, the Thai Environment Minister publicly objected to the 
US's insisting that Thailand grow GM crops as a condition of a bilateral free 
trade agreement.
Now - surprise, surprise - the Thai Prime Minister says he is going to revoke an 
earlier ban on the commercial use of GM crops, in defiance of wide opposition.
This is reminiscent of what happened in Sri Lanka after it introduced a ban on 
GM food in May 2001 in order to allow time for the health risks to be studied. 
At the time of the announcement, Sri Lanka's Director General of Health Services 
said that the safety of consumers was paramount and that the ban would remain in 
place until worldwide concerns about GM foods were settled. After intense 
pressure from the US and the WTO, however, Sri Lanka's ban was indefinitely 
The Thai PM's embrace of GM seems particularly ironic in the light of 
Greenpeace's recent exposure of GM contamination of papaya seeds. The seeds, 
which have been sold to Thai farmers, appear to have been contaminated by GM 
crop trials carried out at a Thai research station in contravention of the 
existing ban.
Yet the Prime Minister's response to what is potentially one of the worst cases 
of GM contamination of a major food crop in Asia, is not to tighten the existing 
ban but to try and revoke it!

In a Philippines' newspaper, the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is 
quoted as saying, "If we (Thailand) don't start [GM] now, we will miss this 
scientific train and lose out in the world."
The Thai PM's announcement is then described as "a move which may place the 
Philippines in the 'laggard' category" for GM. The headline of the article says 
it all: "Thailand may overtake RP [Republic of the Philippines] in biotech 
But in reality, outside the developing world, GM crops are in serious retreat, 
as witnessed by Monsanto's recent announcements that it will:
*"defer" all further efforts to introduce GM wheat globally
*stop its GM canola breeding programmes in Australia
*and withdraw its cereal programmes from Europe.
Other GM firms, like Bayer and Syngenta, have suffered similar setbacks. But in 
the article, a GM supporter is quoted as saying that the Philippines "cannot 
afford to ignore the growing support for biotechnology from various Asian 
governments." Among those cited are China, India and Indonesia.
But Monsanto has pulled out of GM in Indonesia, where it is under investigation 
for corruption, China's political leaders appear ambivalent about going further 
down the GM route, and India's political leaders are under attack for being in 
the laggard category!
The GM supporter who is quoted in the article is said to have "lauded the move 
by the Thai government, saying this will 'send positive signals across Asia...'"
This is an industry that lives by hype and duplicity and the "biotech race" 
provides Asia's leaders with a handy distraction from the crude realities of US 
mercantile power and the abysmal failure of governments and international 
institutions to address the problem of hunger.

Excerpts from an excellent article in Thailand's The Nation newspaper by 
Varoonvarn Svangsopakul of Greenpeace Southeast Asia:
When Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced on Friday that Thailand would 
embrace genetically engineered (GE) crops, he declared that, "The government 
won't let the country miss the biotechnology train."
The message was clear: Thailand must adopt this new, cutting-edge technology as 
a matter of national competitiveness. But a closer look at the reasoning behind 
the National Biotechnology Policy Committee's decision suggests that the 
government knows very little about this train, or even where it's going.
Take for example Thaksin's claim that the EU is now open to GMOs. Clearly he was 
trying to reassure Thailand's farmers and food exporters that the introduction 
of GE crops would not hurt exports. But it's not very reassuring if it isn't 
true. The EU's de facto moratorium on GMOs remains intact, and approvals of GE 
crops remain blocked.
Only one GE food crop - Syngenta's Bt11 sweet corn - has slipped through, but 
Syngenta has now announced that it will not be commercialised. More importantly, 
the EU's new GMO labelling and 'traceability' laws, requiring comprehensive 
documentation of all every step, impose the strictest possible limits on 
unintended GMO contamination in food products - further indicating that consumer 
rejection of GE food remains strong.

Organic farmers and other concerned groups from around the country on 24 August 
held a protest in front of Government House in an attempt to pressure the 
Cabinet into rejecting a proposal to lift the ban on the widespread testing of 
GM crops.
BioThai and the Consumer Protection Network led the protest. "If Thaksin chooses 
GM crops [today], he won't receive any votes from our members at the general 
election," BioThai director Witoon Lianchamroon said. "And we will also lunch 
hundreds of measures to stop field testing, which would harm the public and 
environment significantly."
Witoon added that some companies would benefit if the policy was reversed and 
that was why the new policy was being rushed through.
Thaksin on 23 August said he stood by his decision. "Criticism is acceptable but 
it does not mean I have to believe it. I will make my decision based on 
scientific information, even though it contradicts what the critics are saying," 
he said. "Sometimes there are not many critics but they speak out loud through 
the media."

Activists have slammed the government's recent policy on GM crops. Meanwhile 
senators cast doubt over whether its main motivations related to the Thai-US 
free trade agreement (FTA). Two Senate committees - the Committee on Social and 
Human Security and the Committee on Foreign Affairs - will jointly organise a 
special session to investigate FTA influences in setting GM policy. The session 
is planned for next Wednesday at Parliament.
A number of activists interviewed by The Nation expressed strong disappointment 
over the GM crop policy launched last Friday by Prime Minister Thaksin 
Shinawatra that allows farming and trading of the controversial crops. Said 
Saree Ongsomwang, coordinator of the Foundation for Consumers, "Which part of 
the brain did they use to make such a decision? How can the government put the 
lives of millions of Thai people into the hands of a group of scientists like 
"Hasn't the government learned anything from its mistake at our home?" asked an 
activist from the Northeast, referring to the recent spread of GM-contaminated 
papaya in the region.
Senator Niran Phitakwatchara said the government should reconsider the 
controversial policy. "It is obvious that the past ban on GM crops was to 
prevent their potential impact on consumers and the environment. Why change the 
policy now? What other reason could there be if not pressure from the FTA?" he 

Banthoon Setsirote of the National Human Rights Commission said that one of the 
articles in the draft freetrade agreement with the US stated that Thailand had 
to remove any limitations or obstacles relating to biotechnology goods.

Greenpeace has condemned the Thai government's decision to open Thailand to GM 
crops as leading the country into disaster. At a time when the basic principles 
of genetic engineering are under challenge from new scientific research, the 
government seems to be deliberately ignoring the warnings of many scientific 
institutions around the world. 
Whereas the policy assumes that GMO and natural crops can co-exist, evidence 
from around the world shows that there is no way to prevent contamination. The 
latest example is in the province of Khon Kaen where the government's GMO papaya 
field trials have been identified as the source of contamination of a farmer's 
papaya farm 60 kilometers away from the field trials.

The country's leading rice exporters have joined activists, farmers and 
environmentalists to oppose the prime minister's decision to allow open-field 
trials of GM crops, saying it was a big mistake which would jeopardise 
Thailand's rice markets overseas.
"None of our customers wants to buy GM produce,'' said Wanlop Pichpongsa, a 
company executive. "Importers, particularly in European countries, always ask 
for the GM-free labels or non-GMO certificates for rice and farm products from 
The country was likely to lose several markets in Europe if it promotes 
open-field trial and commercial plantation of genetically modified crops, said 
the executive, who called Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's move 

The National Biotechnology Committee of Thailand plans to use GM technology to 
"improve" the quality and productivity of jasmine rice, ordinary rice and rice 
for food processing. The plan for jasmine rice is to use genetic engineering and 
molecular breeding to introduce resistance to flood and drought. Suman Sahai of 
Gene Campaign says this is not a wise move. Flood and drought tolerance can be 
more easily achieved by conventional breeding than by genetic engineering and 
the price for adding the GM tag may be too high.

"Save Our Rice" Campaign

Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific
P.O. Box 1170
10850 Penang

fon:  (+60) 4-657 0271
fax:  (+60) 4-658 3960
mail: panap at panap.net
URL: www.panap.net/ricecampaign

431 Lengkok Bawah
11700 Gelugor
Pulau Pinang

fon:  (+60) 4-656 7245 (home)
        (+60) 12-5830 601 (mobile)
fax:  (+49) 1212 5 123 14 152 (German area code)
mail: KarstenWolff at web.de

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