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2-Plants: More genetically-modified papaya contamination found in Thailand

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  GM papaya still being found -- NHRC panel
SOURCE: Bangkok Post, thailand, byPiyaporn Wongruang
DATE:   7 Sep 2005

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GM papaya still being found -- NHRC panel

Genetically modified (GM) papaya is still being found in some provinces
although the Agriculture Department earlier claimed all of it had been
destroyed. A special committee under the National Human Rights Commission
(NHRC) yesterday reported that GM papaya had been found in Chaiyaphum,
Kalasin, Maha Sarakham and Rayong.

The committee collected 31 samples from farms growing seeds from the
department's Khon Kaen research station three months ago and sent them to
the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and Mahidol
University for testing.

The lab results showed that at least 11 papaya samples contained GM
genes. One sample was taken from a farm with no record of receiving seeds
from the GM research station.

This led the committee to suspect GM papaya might have cross-bred with
ordinary strains, a development feared by scientists.

''There has been illegal growing but the department seems unaware of the
issue and negligent,'' said Buntoon Srethasirote, a member of the NHRC
subcommittee on biodiversity and international property rights.

The GM papaya controversy first came to light in July when the
environmental group Greenpeace revealed papayas grown by the Khon Kaen
research station contained GM genes.

The group called on the department to destroy all the plants in the
station as well as those supplied to more than 2,600 farmers in 34
provinces. The Agriculture Department later ordered the elimination of
the GM papaya plants.

A cabinet resolution bans GM field trials, while the plant quarantine law
prohibits growing GM papaya.

Mr Buntoon said that since the department seemed to be unaware of the
issue, the committee would direct its report to Prime Minister Thaksin

''If the government is sincere about solving this problem, it will react
to this finding and rush to probe the causes and consequences of this

''It has been more than a year now since the contamination was first
reported, but we have not yet received any conclusions and solutions
about it,'' said Mr Buntoon.

Witoon Lianchamroon, director of BioThai, an NGO promoting biodiversity
conservation and community rights, criticised the department for not
taking the problem seriously.

He said the latest findings have triggered more concern as it was likely
that GM genes have contaminated regular crops.

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

TITLE:  More genetically-modified papaya contamination found -
        Thai rights commission
SOURCE: AFX News Limited
DATE:   6 Sep 2005

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More genetically-modified papaya contamination found - Thai rights commission

BANGKOK (AFX) - Genetically-modified (GM) seeds had contaminated a third
of 31 papaya orchards studied in July, Thailand's Human Rights Commission
said, calling for tough public safeguards against the technology.

Commissioner Vasant Panich said 11 of 31 samples tested on July 14 and 17
were contaminated with GM seeds in the eastern province of Rayong and the
northeastern provinces of Mahasarakham, Chaiyaphum and Kalasin.

The first contamination was found last year in the northeastern province
of Khon Kaen, after the environmentalist group Greenpeace accused the
government of illegally selling genetically-modified papaya seeds from a
research station there.

Farmers in the four provinces surveyed in July said they had received the
papaya seeds from the same research station.

Greenpeace filed a complaint with the rights commission, alleging the
contamination violated the rights of farmers and consumers, damaged the
environment and breached a 2001 law that banned field trials of
genetically-modified organisms, known as GMOs.

Vasant urged the government to destroy the contaminated fields, to
compensate farmers for their losses and tighten laws banning GMO field trials.

'We need a biosafety or consumer protection law before we start open
field trials,' he said.

The Human Rights Commission only has advisory powers.

The cabinet banned GMO field trials in 2001. The current law forbids the
public sale of GMO seeds and requires products containing more than 5 pct
of a genetically-modified ingredient to be clearly labelled.


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