The Nation (Thailand)
January 31, 2002,
Import of GM crops banned
BY The Nation.
Thirty-seven genetically modified (GM) crops are to be banned from entering the country except for scientific research, said a senior official of the Department of Agriculture.
Surapol Yinasawapan, a highranking official of the departments Agricultural Regulatory Division, yesterday said the 37 GM crops including oranges, apples, coffee trees and wheat would be put on the prohibited plant list under the 1964 Plant Quarantine Act.
GM crops are novel for Thailand. We have to be more careful before allowing them to enter because some people are concerned about their negative impact on the ecosystem, he said. At present there are 40 GM plant species on the prohibited list. None of those plants or parts of them can be imported, except for scientific experiments in quarantine conditions under the control of the National Biosafety Committee.
Surapol said that after adding the 37 GM plants to the list, anyone wanting to import naturalborn examples of the species had to show certification to guarantee that they are not GM plants.
Meanwhile, Banpot na Pompetch, chairman of the subcommittee on biosafety, called on the government to cancel its order banning field experiments with GM crops.
The Cabinet on April 3 last year agreed with a proposal from the Assembly of the Poor to forbid field tests of GM crops until the country has a biosafety law. The assembly reasoned that the country lacked methods to control experiments that may allow GM crops to leak into the ecosystem and farmlands.
Only research in laboratories and greenhouses is allowed at present.
Banpot said field research was very important to the whole research scheme.
Without field experiments, research on GM crops cannot be completed and we cannot judge whether any crop should be commercially grown or not, he said.
He added that while waiting for the biosafety legislation, as the assembly had requested, the countrys biotechnology would lag behind because it would take time to draw up the law.