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Thailand must grow GM crops

Kyodo News
September 25, 2000

BANGKOK, Sept. 25 -- A biotechnology expert recommended Monday that Thai agricultural planners apply genetically modified organism (GMO) techniques for food production, as traditional methods are reaching their limits to feed the growing population.

Channapatna Prakash, director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University, made the recommendation in a lecture to a workshop for agriculture research under the ninth National Economic and Social Development five-year plan between 2002 and 2006.

Last week, farmers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) organized a nationwide campaign against GMOs, claiming that gene engineering destroys traditional breeding and local biodiversity.

Prakash told the workshop that although there remain some concerns about the safety of GMO techniques, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

He said GMOs are put through hundreds of tests, including those for food safety, while traditional crops are not.

The professor claimed the new technology could increase crops to feed all 6 billion people in the world, adding that about a billion people go to bed daily on an empty stomach and there are 40,000 hunger-related deaths every day.

However, Anan Dalodom, director general of the Agriculture Department, told the workshop the government would never allow GMOs into the Thai market till their safety is scientifically proven.