GENET archive


2-Plants: GE contamination in papaya seeds confirmed by Thaigovernment

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  1,000 'GM papaya trees' felled
SOURCE: The Nation, Thailand, by Khon Kaen
DATE:   16 Sep 2004 

------------------- archive: -------------------

1,000 'GM papaya trees' felled

An agricultural research station yesterday destroyed 1,000 suspected
genetically modified (GM) papaya trees in Muang district.

"Ten years of research aimed at improving disease resistance in papayas
was destroyed, along with the experimental crops," said research station
chief Wilai Prasartsri.

Wilai said the research setback was unjustified and was essnetially based
on an unfounded fear of GM crops.

The felled trees were buried in a two-metre-deep hole. Wilai added that
she had observed strict safety measures to ensure the experimental
papayas did not contaminate local crops, adding that an internal
investigation had yet to confirm whether the contamination originated
from her research station.

Five papaya farmers, who witnessed the destruction of the GM papaya
trees, expressed their support for Wilai to continue her research.

In Bangkok, Agriculture Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said he suspected that
workers at the research station had unwittingly mixed seeds from GM
papayas with those destined for distribution to farmers.

"Authorities are checking the papayas grown in 2,600 farms in the
Northeast and will destroy only GM crops," Somsak said.

Agriculture Department director-general Chakan Saengraksawong said the
authorities had finished collecting samples from every papaya farm across
the country.

Test results will be known within the next two days and tainted crops
will be destroyed within one month, he said.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

SOURCE: The Nation, Thailand
DATE:   15 Sep 2004 

------------------- archive: -------------------

GOVERNMENT ADMISSION: GM papaya confirmed in NE
Ministry says it will immediately destroy all crops found to be contaminated

The Agriculture Ministry yesterday admitted it had found genetically
modified (GM) papaya on a farm in Khon Kaen and vowed to destroy the
produce of any farm where GMO (genetically modified organism)
contaminated fruit is discovered.

Agriculture Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said the ministry had found that
of 239 analysed samples, one was a GM papaya.

The ministry took a total of 600 samples of papaya each from 2,600
farmers who had bought seedlings from the Agricultural Research and
Development Office, Region 3.

Somsak said the Agriculture Office had destroyed the papaya on the farm
and imposed a control zone within a 450metre radius of the GMO
contamination to prevent its possible spread.

He added that the ministry had set up a working committee comprising
lawyers and specialists to detect GMOs and would take action against
farmers within the control zone who sell GM fruit.

The committee will also find out how the papaya of the ministry's
research arm had become GMOcontaminated.

The farmer whose papaya tested positive was identified as Samorn Nakkong,
from Tambon Tha Phra, Muang district, who had bought 260 papaya seedlings
from the Agricultural Research and Development Office, four kilometres
from his home, in July. The office has yet to identify the papaya breed -
Khaek Dam or Khaek Nual - which is GMOcontaminated.Agriculture Ministry
permanent secretary Banpot Hongthong said he ordered the Agriculture
Department's centre in Khon Kaen to stop its GMO experiment after the
contamination was found. Papaya on contaminated farms would "be destroyed
immediately", he said.

"The ministry is sincere and is open about the contamination. We reveal
the information and solve the problem immediately. That openness will
show importers of papaya that the government does not support GM plants,"
he added.

He said the ministry would also punish the officials responsible for the
GMO contamination pending the findings of the panel. Biothai director
Withoon Lianchamroon said the best way to solve the contamination problem
was for the government to pay compensation to all 2,600 farmers and
destroy all the papaya on their farms, because the cost of GMO testing -
Bt1,600 per sample - was prohibitive.

Withoon called on the government to scrap the GMO experiment of Kasetsart
University, but Agriculture Department directorgeneral Chakan
Saengraksawong said the experiments of both Kasetsart and Mahidol
universities would continue.

Lab tests by the environmental organisation Greenpeace and the Human
Rights Commission have independently found GMO papaya on two other farms.

Thai law forbids the public sale of GM seeds and requires products
containing more than five per cent of a genetically modified ingredient
to be labelled.

Greenpeace in July accused the government of illegally selling GM papaya
seeds after the environmental group raided a stateowned farm and
conducted its own tests.

Withoon said that consumer protection groups and his office would take
samples of papaya from seven more provinces. The results will be known in
two weeks.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
W: <>

   GENET-news mailing list