Thai food products contaminated with GE ingredients
April 10, Bangkok, Thailand
Thai consumers are unwittingly being force-fed genetically engineered (GE) food, according to Greenpeace laboratory tests. The tests have confirmed the presence of GE organisms in seven everyday food items sold in Thai supermarkets. Many of these food products are produced by international food companies that have promised to label or even remove GE ingredients in other parts of the world.
Genetic tests were commissioned by Greenpeace on 30 consumer food products bought from a Bangkok supermarket. (1) The seven that proved positive for GE contamination were: Nestle baby food (baby cerelac), Good Time instant cereal beverage, Knorr cup soup (instant cream of corn soup), Nissin cup noodles, Lay's Stax (potato crisp original flavour), Pringles snacks, High Class Vita-Tofu soy bean curd. None of these products' labels or packaging contained information useful for the consumer to determine whether or not they were eating GE food.
"It is shocking to know that these GE items are already ending up in our food without the public's knowledge or consent. Scientists still do not know the long- term effects of releasing GE organisms into our environment and people's diets. Thai consumers have a right to refuse being treated like guinea pigs in what is a massive experiment with potentially far reaching and irreversible consequences," said Auaiporn Suthonthanyakorn, campaigner on Genetic Engineering for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Greenpeace accused the manufacturers of the products of practicing double standards for rich and poor countries, especially the big multinational corporations like Nestle, Unilever, PepsiCo, Nissin and Procter and Gamble. In other countries these same companies are implementing a GE free policy in the production of their food commodities and speak in favour of GE labeling.
"In 1996 when GE food ingredients arrived for the first time, Nestle in Germany committed not to use GE ingredients in their baby food and today they still keep this commitment. Here in Thailand Nestle is feeding children GE baby food without even informing mothers about their GE ingredients," said Jim Thomas of Greenpeace international.
"It is utterly irresponsible for them to treat Thais as second class consumers." These revelations of contaminated foods come just as the Thai government has decided to stop all planting of GE crops in Thailand. 0100,0100,0100Times New RomanArialHowever, according to Greenpeace, it appears that large quantities of GMO's are still entering the Thai food chain despite this notable action from government. (2)
"This situation should push the government into taking swift and decisive action to remove GE organisms from the nation's food supply. A necessary first step would be for the government to immediately implement a full and strict labeling system for GE ingredients" stressed Dr Jiragorn Gajaseni, Executive Director of Greenpeace South East Asia. "Without a strict labeling system, Thai consumers will continue to be kept in the dark by these global food companies. This is a scandalous situation, we urge the government to take action now," said Dr. Gajaseni.
On December 9th, 2000, Greenpeace commissioned an independent Hong Kong food-testing laboratory (Hong Kong DNA Chips Ltd.) to test 30 common consumer food items available in Thai supermarkets. The laboratory used a standard PCR test (polymerase chain reaction) to check for the presence of gene sequences from the two most commonly grown types of GE crops: *
Roundup Ready crops (primarily soya and some corn) , which have been genetically engineered to resist Monsanto's herbicide 'Roundup' (Glyphosate). *
Bt Crops (primarily corn) that have been genetically engineered to produce an insecticide toxin.
All 30 products were chosen for testing because they contained either Soya or corn ingredients.
Greenpeace research revealed that 1.7 million tones of Soya are currently imported from the US, most of it likely to be genetically engineered. Likewise, food products from the US are imported into Thailand. None of this GE food is currently tested for safety or controlled by the Thai government. By contrast at least 26 governments worldwide already require GE labeling and others have banned GMO's.
More information and reports:_ Download the PDF report:
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