GENET archive


6-Genetech §§: GM labelling will come if consumers want, say Thai officials

----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  GM labelling will come if consumers want, say top officials
        Country not ready for 'sensitive' move
SOURCE: Bangkok Post, Thailand, by Uamdao Noikorn
DATE:   January 13, 2000

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GM labelling will come if consumers want, say top officials
Country not ready for 'sensitive' move

Goods with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) will be labelled if 
that is what consumers in Thailand really want, the permanent 
secretary for agriculture said yesterday. But Thailand will not allow 
GM crop cultivation, nor any use of GM grains other than as 
production materials unless there is solid proof that they are not 
hazardous to health and the environment, Petipong Pungboon na 
Ayutthaya said. According to Ampon Kittiampon, assistant permanent 
secretary, labelling is a "very sensitive issue" for Thailand 
considering there is a wide array of popular, everyday-use products 
containing GMOs.

"We must classify GMOs into three groups. The first involves GMOs as 
production materials. There is no need to label them since their 
modified genes have been proved to be non-transferable," he said. It 
was the two other groups that posed problems - bioengineered seeds 
which have caused health safety concerns, and GM products for direct 
consumption such as cooking oil and soya milk, Mr Ampon said. Since 
most GM imports were for indirect consumption, immediate labelling 
would cause a "big stir" in the agricultural sector as nothing was 
ready yet, he said.

"We have to be clear first about what consumers want. Do they want us 
to label chickens that eat GM feed or do they just want end products 
labelled?" Declining to give a timeframe, Mr Ampon said there were 
many things to be done before Thailand became ready for GM labelling. 
"There's an issue of biosafety guideline that's under way. About food 
safety, we're now waiting for the World Health Organisation's direct 
guideline on this."

The Agriculture Ministry on Monday had a discussion with Christopher 
Bond, a US senator from Missouri, and Roger Beachy, chief executive 
of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St Louis, Missouri. Mr 
Beachy is renowned for his work, in collaboration with Monsanto Co, 
in the development of the world's first genetically modified food 
crop including a variety of virus-resistant tomato.

They were here on a three-day visit aimed at informing the Thai 
public of the benefits of GMOs based on "scientific" grounds, 
according to Mr Beachy. The US administration did not require GM 
labelling because there was "no chemical difference" between GM and 
non-GM products, he said.


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