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2-Plants: Illegal GE papaya in Thailand has antibiotic resistant genes



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

TITLE:  Illegal GE papaya in Thailand has antibiotic resistant genes
SOURCE: Greenpeace Southeast Asia
        http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/news/illegal-ge-papaya-in-thailand
DATE:   30 Jun 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


Illegal GE papaya in Thailand has antibiotic resistant genes

Bangkok, Thailand -- 30 June 2005 - Greenpeace today revealed new
laboratory results which show that the illegal genetically engineered
(GE) papaya sold by the Department of Agriculture contains antibiotic
resistant genes that contradict the standards of the World Health
Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO/WHO Codex).

Samples of seeds sold by the DOA's research station in Khon Kaen tested
positive for tetracycline resistance. Tetracycline is a broad-spectrum
antibiotic used to treat infections.

Section 58 of the FAO/WHO Codex specifically says: "Antibiotic resistant
genes used in food production that encode resistance to clinically used
antibiotics should not be present in foods (1)."

"The illegal GE papaya is now proven to be a risk to the Thai people who
love to eat papaya. The DOA must reveal every information they have on
the GE papaya, especially on their safety assessment. There is a real
danger that people may develop resistance to antibiotics through GE
contaminated papaya," said Patwajee Srisuwan of Greenpeace.

The European Food Safety Authority has categorized antibiotic marker
genes into 3 classes according to their medical importance. Tetracyclin
falls in class three which the authority says must be avoided. It states:
"Irrespective of considerations about the realistic importance of the
health threat, these genes should be avoided in the genome of transgenic
plants to ensure the highest standard of preventive health care.
Therefore these antibiotic resistance marker genes should not be present
in GM plants placed on the market or in plants used for experimental
field trials (2)."

In addition to health risks, the presence of antibiotics resistant genes
in the Thai GE papaya can have negative impacts to Thai exports into the
European Union. The EU strictly enforces a legislation which states:
"Member States and the Commission shall ensure that GMOs which contain
genes expressing resistance to antibiotics in use for medical or
veterinary treatment are taken into particular consideration when
carrying out an environmental risk assessment, with a view to identifying
and phasing out antibiotic resistance markers in GMOs which may have
adverse effects on human health and the environment (3)."

Earlier this year, Dr Michael Hansen, an American biologist who works at
the Consumers Union of the United States warned about health risks due to
the possible presence of antibiotic resistance in GE papaya. He stated
that in the case of Hawaii, three antibiotic resistant genes were found
in two types of GE papaya that is being cultivated. Since the DOA used
nearly the same method when they developed the GE papaya here, there is
very high probability of tetracycline resistance in the Thai GE papaya,
he added.

The DOA, however, keeps misleading the public, saying they just finished
the safety assessment on the illegal GE papaya in Thailand and found it
safe for human health and environment. The safety assessment cited by the
DOA has never been revealed to the public or reviewed by independent
scientists.

"The presence of tetracycline resistance genes is against international
standards and puts consumers at risk. Consumers do not know if they are
already eating GE papaya and do not have information about this. The DOA
is hiding information regarding their research, experiments and safety
assessment of GE papaya, which is violating the public's right to know
and right to say no to GMOs," said Sairung Thongploon of the
Confederation of Consumer Organization of Thailand.

Greenpeace and the Confederation of Consumer Organization of Thailand
demand that the DOA disclose all information on GE papaya and immediately
decontaminate fields and farms found to be contaminated by GMOs. --

NOTES

1) The FAO/WHO Codex is at ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/esn/food/
guide_plants_en.pdfFAO/WHO

2) The European Union legislation (Directive 2001/18/EC of the European
Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release
into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing
Council Directive 90/220/EEC - Commission Declaration, Official Journal L
106 , 17/04/2001 P. 0001 - 0039)

3) The European Union legislation (Directive 2001/18/EC of the European
Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release
into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing
Council Directive 90/220/EEC - Commission Declaration, Official Journal L
106 , 17/04/2001 P. 0001 - 0039)


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

TITLE:  GM papayas in Khon Kaen found unsafe
        Greenpeace uncovers antibiotic resistance
SOURCE: Bangkok Post, Thailand, by Apinya Wipatayotin
        http://www.bangkokpost.com/010705_News/01Jul2005_news16.php
DATE:   1 Jul 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


GM papayas in Khon Kaen found unsafe
Greenpeace uncovers antibiotic resistance

Genetically-modified (GM) papaya seeds used in in experimental field
trials by the agricultural research station in Khon Kaen contain the
tatracyclin antibiotic-resistant gene, recognised as an unsafe GM marker
gene by various international food safety organisations, said Greenpeace
South East Asia yesterday.

''We obtained GM papaya seeds from the Khon Kaen agricultural research
station in July last year. We were suspicious that the research station
might use tatracyclin as a marker gene for its experiments.

''In May, we decided to send those samples for a gene scan test in
Germany. The result showed that GM papaya seeds were contaminated with
the tatracyclin-resistant gene,'' said Greenpeace campaigner Patwajee
Srisuwan.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has already warned against the
use of the tatracyclin gene marker on GM plants in the market or in
plants used for experimental field trials.

Codex, a commission created in 1963 by the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation to develop
food standards, has ruled that antibiotic-resistant genes should not be
present in food.

Greenpeace South East Asia last year discovered that GM papaya seeds
experimented on by the Khon Kaen agricultural research station had
slipped through to 2,600 farmers in 37 provinces.

The organisation later raided the station and also destroyed suspected GM
papayas in private farms in Khon Kaen in July.

To minimise the conflict, the government decided to temporarily suspend
open-field GM crop trials.

However, it has continued to allow laboratory tests of GM crops.

Greenpeace said it was concerned about the impact on human health and
Thai fruit exports. Tatracyclin would be no longer effective as an
antibiotic in people who have eaten GM papayas containing the
tatracyclin-resistant gene.

Tatracyclin is one of the world's most widely-used antibiotics.

Thailand currently exports canned fruit salad mixed with papaya to the
European Union and Japan. If some of the GM papaya slipped into food
exports, it would hurt the country's income, the group warned.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Consumer Organisations criticised the
Department of Agriculture for refusing to release information on its GMO
experiments, saying its refusal was a threat to the public.

''It is the government's job to tell the truth to people. But as you see,
the government did nothing,'' said confederation manager Sairung Thongplon.

Miss Patwajee pointed out that the Department of Agriculture told the
House Committee on Science and Technology on June 16 that GM papaya was
safe for the environment and food.

''We need to see transparency from state officials. The government must
reveal the correct information to the public. The department told us that
all GM papayas in open fields had already been destroyed. But we have
still found GM crops in Rayong and Kamphaeng Phet provinces. With the
current situation, we are not sure that we can believe information from
state authorities,'' she said.

Miss Sairung said that legal action might be taken if the department
still refused to clarify the facts.




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