1.GM papayas in Khon Kaen found unsafe
2.Greenpeace urged to hand over papaya report

Antibiotic resistance is a major health issue as it can result in high morbidity and mortality, and the failure of the treatment of life threatening bacterial infections in humans and animals.

1.GM papayas in Khon Kaen found unsafe
Greenpeace uncovers antibiotic resistance
Bangkok Post, 1 July 2005

Genetically-modified (GM) papaya seeds used in in experimental field trials by the agricultural research station in Khon Kaen contain the tatracyclin antibiotic-resistant gene, recognised as an unsafe GM marker gene by various international food safety organisations, said Greenpeace South East Asia yesterday.

"We obtained GM papaya seeds from the Khon Kaen agricultural research station in July last year. We were suspicious that the research station might use tatracyclin as a marker gene for its experiments.

"In May, we decided to send those samples for a gene scan test in Germany. The result showed that GM papaya seeds were contaminated with the tatracyclin-resistant gene," said Greenpeace campaigner Patwajee Srisuwan.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has already warned against the use of the tatracyclin gene marker on GM plants in the market or in plants used for experimental field trials.

Codex, a commission created in 1963 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation to develop food standards, has ruled that antibiotic-resistant genes should not be present in food.

Greenpeace South East Asia last year discovered that GM papaya seeds experimented on by the Khon Kaen agricultural research station had slipped through to 2,600 farmers in 37 provinces.

The organisation later raided the station and also destroyed suspected GM papayas in private farms in Khon Kaen in July.

To minimise the conflict, the government decided to temporarily suspend open-field GM crop trials.

However, it has continued to allow laboratory tests of GM crops.

Greenpeace said it was concerned about the impact on human health and Thai fruit exports. Tatracyclin would be no longer effective as an antibiotic in people who have eaten GM papayas containing the tatracyclin-resistant gene.

Tatracyclin is one of the world's most widely-used antibiotics.

Thailand currently exports canned fruit salad mixed with papaya to the European Union and Japan. If some of the GM papaya slipped into food exports, it would hurt the country's income, the group warned.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Consumer Organisations criticised the Department of Agriculture for refusing to release information on its GMO experiments, saying its refusal was a threat to the public.

"It is the government's job to tell the truth to people. But as you see, the government did nothing," said confederation manager Sairung Thongplon.

Miss Patwajee pointed out that the Department of Agriculture told the House Committee on Science and Technology on June 16 that GM papaya was safe for the environment and food.

"We need to see transparency from state officials. The government must reveal the correct information to the public. The department told us that all GM papayas in open fields had already been destroyed. But we have still found GM crops in Rayong and Kamphaeng Phet provinces. With the current situation, we are not sure that we can believe information from state authorities," she said.

Miss Sairung said that legal action might be taken if the department still refused to clarify the facts.

2.Greenpeace urged to hand over papaya report
Bangkok Post, July 5 2005

The Department of Agriculture wants Greenpeace South East Asia to send its report that shows that genetically modified papaya tested at the department's Khon Kaen research station was contaminated with tatracycline antibiotic-resistant gene.

Director-general Chakan Saengraksawong said the organisation should send the information to the department for a review. "But it must be sure that the information was correct and based on facts."

Greenpeace released the report of test results of GM seeds obtained from the Khon Kaen station at a German laboratory which showed the seeds contained the tatracycline antibiotic-resistant gene, a marker gene recognised as unsafe by the European Food Safety Authority and Codex, a United Nations agency on food safety. Tatracycline is an agricultural derivative of tetracycline, an antibiotic.

Mr Chakan, however, insisted that the GM crop test runs by the department were "in line with international standards."