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6-Regulation: New call to lift field trials ban in Thailand



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TITLE:  New call to lift field trials ban
SOURCE: Bangkok Post, Thailand
        http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/23Mar2006_news20.php
DATE:   23 Mar 2006

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New call to lift field trials ban

Thailand needs to further the study of genetically modified (GM) crops by
lifting the ban on open field trials to better assess the likely
environmental impact, the Department of Agriculture chief said yesterday.
Cabinet imposed a ban on open field trials of GM crops because it is
still unclear if there could be cross pollination between GM crops and
non-GM plants.

Experts are worried the trials could affect the export of farm produce to
countries which oppose GM products.

''But without such trials, we cannot evaluate how safe it may be on the
environment and the research has been cut short,'' said department chief
Adisak Sreesunpagit.

GM technology allows scientists to add or remove genes across species to
make crops exhibit desirable traits such as resistance to pests and
drought. However, environmentalists have warned that GM crops may be
harmful to biodiversity and to human health. ''Allegations of the dangers
have been making the rounds for 10 years now, but has there been any
serious impact yet?'' Mr Adisak said.

He revived his suggestion for open field trials to be carried out during
a training course on bio-safety of GM crops yesterday.

Late last year, a group of northeastern farmers urged the department to
ask the government to lift the ban. The farmers said their papaya farms
had been ruined by the ring spot virus and believed GM papayas might
boost crop resistance. Scientists successfully added parts of the viral
gene to a papaya to make it develop immunity to the virus.




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