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Thai Cabinet Rejects GMO Crop Approval

GM WATCH daily
http://www.gmwatch.org
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It aint over yet. Please keep up the support for the Thai protesters:
http://www.gmwatch.org/p1temp.asp?pid=44&page=1
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Thai cabinet overturns GMO approval
31 Aug 2004 09:48:13 GMT
Reuters
By Trirat Puttajanyawong

BANGKOK, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Thailand's cabinet decided on Tuesday to keep a
three-year ban on planting crops using genetically modified organisms
(GMO), overturning a decision by a panel chaired by Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra.

Instead, it decided to set up a panel to hear the arguments for and against
GMO crops from state agencies and biotech lecturers at all Thai
universities, Science Minister Korn Dabbaransi told reporters.

"We will have academics from all universities to hear their view on three
options -- 1) to promote GMOs freely in Thailand, 2) to allow the
co-existence of GM and non-GM crops, or 3) to ban GMOs completely," Korn
said after the weekly cabinet meeting.

Tuesday's decision reversed one made by Thaksin's committee only little
more than a week ago to allow open-field trials alongside non-GMO plants.

The following day, Thaksin used part of his weekly radio address to laud
Thailand as a country technologically capable of developing GMOs.

"If we don't start now, we will miss this scientific train and lose out in
the world," he said.

The debate on biotech grains has intensified worldwide, with advocates
saying they could lead to a more secure future for food, while opponents
say they could produce new toxins and allergens, affecting the health of
consumers.

Following Thaksin's decision, anti-GMO activists, including Greenpeace and
organic food growers, went out on the streets to urge the government to
reverse its decision, fearing the country's organic food export industry
would be hit hard.

Anti-GMO advocates said by adopting open field trials, Thailand was heading
towards promoting GMOs freely as the government had no measures to prevent
GM crops from contaminating non-GMO crops.

Korn said the government would not change its GMO policy until a law on
biotechnology had been passed.

Planting of GM crops is now done in government laboratories for papayas,
chillies and eggplants, while imports of genetically modified soybeans and
maize for animal feedstock and other commercial uses are legal, officials said.

A consumer group reacted warily to the cabinet decision and urged the
government to allow anti-GMO activists to take part in the drafting process
of a new law on biotechnology.

"We hope this government didn't keep the ban because they were afraid of
losing their popularity ahead of the general election," said Sairung
Thongplon of the Confederation of Consumers' Organisations.

"We hope it will not lift the ban after the elections" due by the end of
March. (Additional reporting by Sasithorn Simaporn)