Playing the field

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- (Credit: GREENPEACE)Love them, hate them but there is no ignoring them. The severe opposition following Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's decision to reverse an earlier ban on the planting of genetically modified (gm) crops served as a timely reminder of the power of the masses. The Cabinet has now decided not to consider the National Science and Technology Development Agency resolution to lift the ban on gm-crop field testing. Instead, a national committee of academics has been directed to weigh the pros and cons of such a move. Government spokesman Jakrapob Penkair admitted that the decision was partly due to strong opposition from environmental and farmers' groups and consumer networks.

As Witoon Lianchamroon, director of BioThai -- an environmental group -- points out, the us biotech businesses stand to gain from the upcoming Thai-us Free Trade Agreement and suspicion for instigation of this policy change falls on the us. The issue of gm crops came out in the open in July when the environmental group Greenpeace exposed how a government research station, planting gm papaya, became the source of contamination of an important staple food of the country.

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