Friday, May 18, 2012
Destroy GMO-tainted papaya crops, researcher says
By Pongphon Sarnsamak
May 18, 2012
Academics yesterday called on the Agriculture Department to destroy farms growing Hawaiian papaya in Kanchanaburi province after a recent study found that these crops might be contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMO).
The move came after a study conducted by Piyasak Chaumpluk from Chulalongkorn University’s Department of Botany revealed on Wednesday that 29 samples of Hawaiian papaya tested in Kanchanaburi province were tainted.
”Tests show that papaya grown in 50-rai in Kanchanaburi province have GMO,” Piyasak said. ”The department should destroy these farms in order to prevent the contamination from spreading.”
Piyasak said he had all the information ready, but did not want to make any of it public as it would affect the farmers. He also called on the department to compensate farmers whose farms would be destroyed, adding the authorities should not blame the farmers for this.
”I don’t think they knew that the papaya seeds were tainted with GMO,” he said.
He is also calling on the department to study the route of GMO-tainted products, from farms to fresh markets or supermarkets.
”We found that pollen from GMO-tainted papaya plants could have contaminated other papaya trees,” he said.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace campaign coordinator for Southeast Asia Nattawika Ewsakul said so far the government had failed to control GMO contamination.
To date, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has used the 1964 Plant Quarantine Act to control GMO contamination in papaya, corn and yellow-bean farms.
”But the question is, why does the contamination still exist?” she asked. ”It is because the government’s measures have not been good enough.”
Nattawika added that the government should pass the bio-safety bill, the draft for which has been languishing for the past two years.
”If government does nothing to control GMO contamination, then farmers will end up having to shoulder added costs of testing their crops for GMO,” she said.