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CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVITIES: Transgenic crops - Greenpeace dumps papayas at ministry in Thailand




                                  PART 1


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

TITLE:  TRANSGENIC CROPS - GREENPEACE DUMPS PAPAYAS AT MINISTRY

SOURCE: Bangkok Post, Thailand

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.bangkokpost.net/News/28Aug2007_news02.php

DATE:   28.08.2007

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TRANSGENIC CROPS - GREENPEACE DUMPS PAPAYAS AT MINISTRY

GM protest goes awry as passers-by grab fruit, run

Greenpeace’s protest against the lifting of a ban on open-field trials of genetically-modified (GM) papaya yesterday was met with an unexpected reaction from a crowd of onlookers.

Passers-by took matters, and tonnes of papayas dumped by Greenpeace, into their own hands, and ran off.

The environmental group dumped the papayas in front of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry yesterday to make its objection to the lifting of the ban loud and clear to the government.

It was the second protest about the controversial issue in five days after reports the ministry will today seek cabinet approval for the lifting of the ban on open-field trials of transgenic crops.

But this time, after the dumping, people flocked to load up on the free papayas, ignoring the environmental organisation’s campaign against the dangers of GM fruit - a message Greenpeace has been trying to get through to the government and the public for years.

Many passers-by, who mostly knew nothing about transgenic fruit, said they did not care about any health risks.

They were just thinking about how hungry they were.

”I don’t care if they’re dangerous,” said papaya salad seller Gig Krueyat, 70. ”I don’t know what the threat is ... nothing serious, I think ...”

Mrs Gig helped herself to three sacks of the fruit in minutes. Others, including some ministry officials and Rasi Salai dam protesters from Sri Sa Ket province who were camped near the ministry, also did not let the opportunity slip by.

A man waiting in traffic for the lights to go green near the ministry, leapt out of his car and joined the feast.

”I’m not scared of GM papayas. Rather, I’m scared I won’t have any to eat,” said Ubon Ratchathani villager Ampon Tantima, 31, before rushing back to his car with the free fruit.

Only some people at yesterday’s protest said they would not eat GM papayas in case there were health risks.

Greenpeace, a staunch protester against GM foods, did not say that all its three truckloads of papayas dumped at the ministry were genetically modified.

But GM papaya seeds, experimented on by the Khon Kaen Agricultural Research Station, were found by the group to have slipped through to 2,669 farmers in 37 provinces three years ago.

The group, blocking three entrance gates to the ministry with mountains of papayas, demanded the government not repeal the April 13 cabinet resolution, which bans GM open-field trials.

The group fears that if the field trials are allowed, pollen from GM papayas or other crops will be carried by insects or the wind to contaminate non-GM farms.

They also warned that open-field GM trials, if they go ahead, will hit Thailand’s exports of agricultural produce as other countries would order a halt to crop imports from Thailand.

Natwipha Ewasakul, a genetic engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the crowd scrambling for the dumped papayas yesterday reflected a lack of knowledge about GMO issues among Thai consumers.

”This shows the failure of government agencies to educate people about the possible health risks of genetically-engineered crops,” she said.

The incident was also clear evidence that once crops were contaminated with GMOs, people would not be able to avoid eating them because it was impossible to identify GM from non-GM food, said Ms Natwipha. ”This is the true danger of GM food,” she said.



                                  PART 2

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

TITLE:  GREENPEACE CONTINUES PROTEST ON WAIVING BAN ON GMO FARMING

SOURCE: Thai News Agency, Thailand

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://etna.mcot.net/query.php?nid=31310

DATE:   28.08.2007

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GREENPEACE CONTINUES PROTEST ON WAIVING BAN ON GMO FARMING

BANGKOK, Aug 28 (TNA) – Greenpeace Southeast Asia submitted a letter to Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanond on Tuesday morning to protest the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry’s plan to push for a cabinet waiver on the ban on open-field trials of genetically modified (GM) papaya.

The group of activists to promote sustainable agriculture from Greenpeace Southeast Asia showed five zombie effigies characterising papaya, rice, tomato, pineapple, and chili at their demonstration and they submitted the letter to the prime minister in their attempt to stop Agriculture Minister Thira Sutabutr’s plan to push for a cabinet waiver on the nationwide ban on GMO farming trials.

Nutthawipa Iwsakun, a Greenpeace Southeast Asia coordinator, said the group called for the cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to reject the ministry’s controversial draft to protect the right of Thai people from GMO plants, which can be a threat to environment and consumer health.

The NGO activist said that the zombie effigies signify that GMO technology is hazardous and can destroy Thailand’s agriculture and environment. If GMO plants are leaked to open farming areas, they are like a Pandora’s Box of zombies that will roam around and can’t be called back into control. The GMO plants will spread and contaminate native plants, she said.

If the cabinet accepts revoking the existing ban, it means the interim government favours a few transnational companies to their benefit and to the detriment of the future of Thai farmer and commodities that depend on export markets which reject GM produce, Ms. Nutthawipa added.



                                  PART 3

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

TITLE:  NGOS PROTEST AGAINST GENETICALLY-MODIFIED CROPS

SOURCE: Thai News Agency, Thailand

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://etna.mcot.net/query.php?nid=31301

DATE:   27.08.2007

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NGOS PROTEST AGAINST GENETICALLY-MODIFIED CROPS

BANGKOK, Aug 27 (TNA) – Nine tonnes of papaya were dumped at the gates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on the capital’s stately Rajdamnoen Avenue Monday in protest of the ministry’s plan to promote fruit allegedly grown as genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Led by Nutthawipa Iwsakun, a Greenpeace Southeast Asia coordinator, a group of NGO demonstrators and other activists unloaded the papaya from trucks at the ministry’s gates and called on Agriculture Minister Thira Sutabutr to stop pushing for a cabinet waiver on a nationwide ban on GMO farming.

The agriculture minister reportedly planned to seek a waiver of the ban on genetically-modified fruit in a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

Ms. Nutthawipa charged the ministry’s promotion of GMO papaya was merely aimed to help a few firms at the cost of the country’s fruit exports, because world markets will not accept GMO products.

Though the Agriculture Ministry had destroyed genetically-modified papaya trees at a demonstrative farm in Khon Kaen, others have been grown in Kalasin, Maha Sarakham, Chaiyaphum, Kamphaengphet and Rayong provinces while papaya seed from the GMO demonstration farm in Khon Kaen had been distributed to more than 2,600 farmers in 37 provinces, the activist said.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia earlier litigated at the Administrative Court against the Agriculture Department for failing to keep papaya a GMO-free fruit.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commerce Minister Oranuch Osathanonda said she disagreed with the government plans to promote genetically-modified papaya farming because importing countries would cut back their orders for fruit and other farm products from Thailand.

Mrs. Oranuch commented that experimental GMO projects should be terminated, because, she said, their output might otherwise be leaked to farmers.

Rice Exporters Association chief Chukiat Ophatwong urged the government to call off all research and development projects on any GMO product because it would impact rice and other farm commodities bound for world export markets.



                                  PART 4

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

TITLE:  GREENPEACE WARNS CABINET AGAINST MOVES TO REPEAL TRIAL BAN ON GM CROPS

SOURCE: Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Thailand

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/press/releases/greenpeace-warns-cabinet-again

DATE:   22.08.2007

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GREENPEACE WARNS CABINET AGAINST MOVES TO REPEAL TRIAL BAN ON GM CROPS

Group hits Ministry of Agriculture for reviving GM contamination threat

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Greenpeace cautioned the Thai Cabinet against moves by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to repeal the existing field trial ban on genetically modified (GM) crops in the country, stressing that said efforts represent a clear threat that would undermine Thailand’s leadership in agricultural production.

The environmental group pointed out that the country is still suffering from contamination by genetically engineered (GE) papaya, a serious environmental problem which the MoA itself has been unable to effectively contain.

”The Cabinet must stand firm against this dangerous proposal from the Ministry of Agriculture. It is the duty of the government to protect the interest of the Thai public against GM crops which pose serious threats to public health and the environment. Thailand should

not adopt this direction being promoted by the MoA, as global rejection of GM crops is higher than ever. GM crops will undermine our country’s leadership in agricultural production and may eventually result in the lost of key export markets for our country’s untainted produce, ” said Natwipha Ewasakul, Genetic Engineering Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

In July 2004, Greenpeace exposed the role of an MoA-run experimental station in Khon Kaen as the source of genetic contamination of Thai papayas. The station distributed GE contaminated papaya seeds to as many as 2,669 farmers in 37 provinces. The MoA has so far failed to act to comprehensively rid Thai papaya farms of this widespread GE contamination.

Consequently, Greenpeace filed a case in the Administrative Court against the Department of Agriculture for dereliction of duty in dealing with the said cases of contamination.

”It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Agriculture is furthering the interests of the GE industry in addition to its dereliction of duty with regards to the GE papaya contamination problem in the country. We reiterate our call for the Thai government to quickly investigate the Ministry of Agriculture and punish those involved in the GE papaya contamination scandal,” Natwipha added.

A recent Greenpeace report [1] found out that governments, farmers and consumers throughout the world recognise that GE crops are unreliable, unviable or downright dangerous. In recent months, for example, 41 of the world’s biggest rice exporters, processors and retailers issued written commitments to stay GE-free. Thailand and

Vietnam, respectively the world’s first and second largest exporters of rice, also recently signed a memorandum of understanding to shun GE rice. These rejections came as a result of rogue GE crop contamination in different parts of the world such as the US, China, EU and the Philippines - which has threatened the global food chain.

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.

 

Notes to Editor

1) The ’Global status of genetically engineered crops’ provides solid evidence that resistance to genetically engineered crops continues to grow, amongst farmers, consumers and governments.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/global-status-of-gene



                                  PART 5

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

TITLE:  GREENPEACE EYEBALLS MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE FOR PUSHING GM CROP FIELD TRIALS

SOURCE: Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Thailand

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/news/greenpeace-eyeballs-ministry-o

DATE:   23.08.2007

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GREENPEACE EYEBALLS MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE FOR PUSHING GM CROP FIELD TRIALS

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Wearing giant eyeball headgear, Greenpeace activists trooped to the central office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) in Bangkok to warn against the agency´s attempts to repeal the ban on field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops in the country. The ”eyeball parade” called attention to the insidious threat posed by genetic contamination likely to occur should the government allow GM crop field trials.

”We wish to inform Minister Theera Sutabutra that we will be watching every move he makes on this issue. Given its brazen promotion of GM crop field trials, the MoAC seems to be inclined to support the interests of multinational agro-chemical companies to the detriment of the environment and our agricultural sector. Vigilance is needed to make sure that the MoAC does not throw away the future of Thai agricultural production,” said Natwipha Ewasakul, Genetic Engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

In July 2004, Greenpeace exposed the role of an MoA-run experimental station in Khon Kaen as the source of genetic contamination of Thai papayas. The station distributed GE contaminated papaya seeds to as many as 2,669 farmers in 37 provinces. The MoA has so far failed to act to comprehensively rid Thai papaya farms of this widespread GE contamination. Due to the uncertainty caused by this unwanted and illegal contamination, market confidence on Thai papaya exports especially in Europe faltered.

”The Ministry´s deplorable experience with GM papaya should have already taught the agency an important lesson regarding the formidable challenges posed by genetic contamination. Once GMOs are released into the environment, usually via open field trials, it is almost impossible to recall them. The process is irreversible,” added Natwipha.

In 2005 and 2006, the world´s most important food crop, rice, was found to be contaminated by genetically modified strains which are unapproved and illegal in most countries outside of the United States. Bayer´s genetically modified rice called Liberty Link contaminated US rice supplies resulting in widespread market rejection of rice from the US, especially in the EU, Japan and the Philippines. This has also prompted leading rice traders in Thailand and Vietnam, respectively the world´s first and second largest exporters of rice, to sign a joint declaration in November last year shunning GMO rice and committing to trade and grow only GMO free rice to protect traditional rice varieties and their export markets.

”These cases of contamination clearly demonstrate the uncontrollable and dangerous nature of GM crops. With genetic contamination comes the inevitable loss of markets for the country´s agricultural produce, as shown by the continuing rejection of GMOs by a growing number of consumers worldwide. Minister Theera´s scheme to have the GM crop field trial ban repealed should not be allowed to succeed if the country wants to keep the integrity of its food supply and retain its stature as the Food Basket of Asia,” added Ewasakul.



                                  PART 6

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

TITLE:  GREENPEACE BLOCKS AGRICULTURE MINISTRY GATES

SOURCE: Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Thailand

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/news/greenpeace-blocks-agriculture

DATE:   27.08.2007

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GREENPEACE BLOCKS AGRICULTURE MINISTRY GATES

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Greenpeace activists dumped truckloads of papayas at the main gates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) in Bangkok, to remind the government of the legacy of genetic contamination that exists brought about by its illegal propagation of GM papayas in Khon Kaen province in 2004. The activists are demanding that the existing ban on field trials of genetically modified crops should not be repealed by the Cabinet.

”We are forced to block the gates of MoAC because Minister Thira Sutabutra, seems to be hell-bent on destroying the livelihood of Thai farmers only to serve the interests of GMO pushers which include a few agro-chemical corporations.” said Natwipha Ewasakul, Genetic Engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.”

”His continuing push to repeal the ban on GM crop trials betrays his lack of concern for the future of Thai agricultural production which relies strongly on export markets favoring untainted farm produce. Before he opens the floodgates that would allow more genetic contamination to take place, we dare him to first clean up the mess that his department left behind with their unwanted and illegal GM papaya experiments in Khon Kaen province.” she added.

In July 2004, Greenpeace exposed the role of a MoAC-run experimental station in Khon Kaen as the source of genetic contamination of Thai papayas. The station distributed GE contaminated papaya seeds to as many as 2,669 farmers in 37 provinces. The MoAC has so far failed to act to comprehensively rid Thai papaya farms of this widespread GE contamination. Due to the uncertainty caused by this unwanted and illegal contamination, market confidence on Thai papaya exports especially in Europe faltered.

Following an outcry, MoAC was forced to order the destruction of papaya trees in Khon Kaen research station’s field trials but Greenpeace found GE papaya in 5 provinces, Kampaengpetch, Kalasin, Chaiyaphoom, Mahasarakham and Rayong and filed a case at the Administrative Court against the Department of Agriculture for dereliction of duty in dealing with the said cases of contamination.

”Instead of learning a lesson from this widespread and unwanted contamination of papaya brought about by the Department of Agriculture’s irresponsible acts, the Minister is still planning to go ahead and present a resolution to repeal the ban on field trials of GM crops at a cabinet meeting tomorrow. We are here to stop and remind him that his mandate is to save our country’s agriculture and environment from the evil designs of vested interests.” Natwipha added.


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