FOCUS ON ASIA
The article below gives a fascinating insight into how the biotech bubble or "bad-idea virus" is being spread across Asia, with Asian countries being cynically manipulated into believing they will be left behind if they don't rush into introducing GMOs.
The "bad-idea virus", it may be remembered, is how economist Joseph Cortright recently described the fever that has swept through political leaders in the US, leaving them believing that if they don't succour the money-losing biotech industry they will suffer a significant competitive disadvantage.
"This notion that you lure biotech to your community to save its economy is laughable," says Cortright. Yet, he warns, herd-like "the whole economic-development fraternity has moved lockstep to anoint biotech as the next big thing."
In the article below from the Philippines we are told how in a radio interview, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said, "If we (Thailand) don't start now, we will miss this scientific train and lose out in the world."
The Thai PM's announcement is then described as "a move which may place the Philippines in the 'laggard' category".
The headline says it best: "THAILAND MAY OVERTAKE RP [Republic of the Philippines] IN BIOTECH RACE"
In reality, outside the developing world, GM crops are in serious retreat, as witnessed by Monsanto's recent announcements that it will:
*"defer" all further efforts to introduce GM wheat globally
*stop its GM canola breeding programmes in Australia
*and withdraw its cereal programmes from Europe.
Other GM firms, like Bayer and Syngenta, have also suffered similar setbacks. But in the article below a GM supporter is quoted as saying that the Philippines "cannot afford to ignore the growing support for biotechnology from various Asian governments."
Among those cited are China, India and Indonesia.
But Monsanto has pulled out of GM in Indonesia, where it is under investigation for corruption, China's political leaders appear ambivalent about going further down the GM route, and India's political leaders are under attack for being in the laggard category!
The GM supporter who is quoted in the article is said to have "lauded the move by the Thai government, saying this will 'send positive signals across Asia...' "
This is an industry that lives by hype and duplicity and the "biotech race" provides Asia's leaders with a handy distraction from the crude realities of US mercantile power and the abysmal failure of governments and international institutions to address the problem of hunger.
THAILAND MAY OVERTAKE RP IN BIOTECH RACE
Manila Standard August 24, 2004
Thailand has lifted a three-year ban on planting genetically modified organisms by allowing the crops to grow in open-field trials with non-GMO plants, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Saturday.
Thailand is set to join other Asian leaders in the modern agricultural biotechnology following the lifting of a three-year ban on the planting of GMOs in that country, a move which may place the Philippines in the "laggard" category.
Benigno Peczon, a scientist and a holder of a PhD from Purdue University, aired the warning, saying the apparent lack of resolve by the local agriculture sector to address the issue of food security and sufficiency may hamper the growth of the application of modern technologies in food production.
The Philippines made headway in December 2002 by being the first country in Asia to allow the propagation of GM corn, a biotechnologically processed-food crop.
Peczon cited the "firm stand of the Thai government regarding the application of biotechnology in their food production sector."
In a radio interview, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said, "If we (Thailand) don't start now, we will miss this scientific train and lose out in the world."
"We are technologically capable of developing GMOs," Shinawatra said. His statement followed an order allowing GMO crops to be grown in open-field trials with non-GMO crops. The decision spelled a head-on collision with anti-GMO activists.
Peczon said the Philippines "cannot afford to ignore the growing support for biotechnology from various Asian governments." China, India and Indonesia have earlier supported the expansion of the use of modern agricultural biotechnology.
Peczon noted, however, that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has already pushed for the domestic propagation of corn varieties developed through the biotechnology process. The pest-resistant varieties have proven to be able to increase farm production and farmer revenues while decreasing the use of toxic chemical pesticides.
Peczon said the government "must now examine its own position on the use of modern agricultural technology, particularly biotechnology." It must aggressively push for greater domestic use of the technology if the country intends to develop the capability to feed its exploding population, he said. He said agriculture officials "must adopt the Shinawatra approach in dealing with anti-GMO groups."
The implementation of food security policies must not depend on the intensity of the propaganda by these groups, but on the realities hounding the food production sector, he added. He lauded the move by the Thai government, saying this will "send positive signals across Asia, and encourage other governments to adopt a more solid stand in the battle against hunger and poverty with use of modern technologies."
Keeping up in Asia's biotech race
FOCUS ON ASIA