Thailand commits to labelling of genetically engineered food
Greenpeace praises the move and urges other Asian countries to follow
Bangkok/London, 12th April, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Greenpeace today welcomed the statement by the Secretary General of the Bureau of Food and Drugs declaring that Thailand’s government will require labelling of genetically engineered (GE) food by the end of this year at latest (1). The announcement came after Greenpeace tests on food products demonstrated that the public is routinely and unknowingly exposed to GE contaminated food. Almost 1 in 4 products tested contained GE ingredients (2).
Secretary General of the Food and Drugs Administration, Dr. Vichai Chokeviwat said on UBC Nation Television that the Thai government has a duty to let the public know about GE ingredients in food and confirmed that “there will be labelling of GE foods by at least the end of the year”. He later repeated this promise on Kom-Chat-Luak programme on UBC 8.
Greenpeace congratulated Thailand for its determination to protect the public and the environment from genetic pollution. The intention to introduce labelling rules for GE food comes only a week after the Thai governments’ decision to ban the release of genetically engineered (GE) crops into the environment and to stop GE field trials was made public.(3)
Thailand is one of the world’s leading food exporting countries and regularly exports to countries such as the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia that require strict labelling of GE ingredients in food.
“Greenpeace urges the other Asian governments to follow Thailand’s lead. This is the sensible and honest thing to do to protect the interest of consumers and the environment. This move will also benefit Thai exporters as Thailand's main export markets are looking for non- GE products or require labelling,” said Dr Jiragorn Gajaseni, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Professor Wichai Cherdshewasart, Member of the Thailand National Board of Biosafety also praised the decision: "Now is our golden opportunity. Most countries are looking for non-GMO [non-genetically modified] produce. We should take advantage of it. In adopting such a policy, the government must then ensure that existing crops with GM [genetically modified] plants, mainly soya bean, will be identified and eventually eradicated."
There are currently 28 countries with labelling legislation in place including Japan, Korea and the 15 countries of the European Union (4). In Europe, where labelling of GE products has been mandatory since1998, the experience shows that labelling has not added costs to the consumer. In the United States, however, where no GE labelling is required, recalls of over 300 food products containing potentially dangerous genetically modified ingredients have cost the food industry over a billion dollars. The only major food producing countries resisting labelling GE food are the United States and Canada.
“Greenpeace calls on Nestle, Knorr, Nissin, Goodtimes, Pringles, Vita-Tofu and Pepsico to also be honest with the public by immediately labelling their GE contaminated products and acting to remove the GE from their food,” said Auaiporn Suthonthanyakorn, Greenpeace GE campaigner in Thailand.
For more information: In Thailand: Auaiporn Suthonthanyakorn, Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaigner, Thailand, Mob: +6618207006; Jim Thomas, +662272 7100
Isabelle Meister, Greenpeace International GE campaigner, Mob: +41794184455; Greenpeace International Press Office, Teresa Merilainen, Tel: +31205236637.
Notes to the editors:
SecretaryGeneral of the Food and Drugs Administration, Dr. Vichai Chokeviwat speaking live on UBC Nation television at 7pm 11th April promised that GE labelling would be in place by at least the end of the year. Questioned by presenter to check this was so he repeated ”by at least the end of the year”.
2) The following products contained GE ingredients: Nestle baby food (Baby Celerac), Good Times instant cereal beverage, Knorr Cup Soup (instant cream of corn soup), Nissin Cup Noodles, Lay's Stax (potato crisp original flavour), Pringles Snack, High class Vita-Tofu soy bean curd.
3) The cabinet of the Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra decided to instruct the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to halt all approvals for GE field trials.
4) Countries that have labelling legislation written or already in place are the 15 countries of the European Union, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Latvia, Poland, Norway, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Israel and Russia. Mexico, the Philippines and Hong Kong have political commitments or legislation awaiting approval for GE labelling whilst Brazil currently forbids the use of GE food altogether.