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Checkbiotech: Thailand - fresh efforts to promote biotech
Posted by: DR. RAUPP & madora (IP Logged)
Date: August 19, 2004 07:58PM ;

Scientists, anxious at the negative perception of genetically modified (GM)
crops, announced a fresh effort to promote biotechnology and inform the
public about the scientific facts of GM issues, which they said have been
distorted by some people, August 2004 by Ranjana Wangvipula.

Current problems are due to the public's GM knowledge not being based on
science, said Sutat Sriwatanapongse, a senior scientist at the National
Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec). Mr Sutat has been
assigned as acting chairman of the newly established Biotechnology Alliance
Association (BAA), formed to educate the public about biotechnology
applications, including controversial GM crops.

The public will be provided with more scientific facts as in the past people
have often been misled, he claimed. Reports on GM papayas are one example of
this, scientists at the BAA said. They said GM papayas such as those in
Hawaii that are resistant to the deadly Ring Spot virus, should not be
blamed for causing human allergies.

Such allergies could also be caused by non-GM crops. Other alleged negative
side-effects from GM papayas should be carefully studied, they said.
Scientists have discovered a GM technique to add a virus to the papaya plant
gene, thus increasing its resistance to the Ring Spot disease.

However, the technique has led to concern from environmental groups, who
fear its possible adverse impact on human health and the environment. "This
information was reported to the public in a manner that depicted it as ugly
and dangerous. That was discouraging for me," said Supat Attatham, a plant
pathologist at Kasetsart University.

Mr Supat is conducting an experiment on GM papayas at the university campus
in Nakhon Phathom. He said the probability of GM papayas harming the
environment was very low and he called for the public to be educated with
more scientific facts.

The BAA, mainly financed by Biotec and the International Service for the
Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, will inform the public about
biotech issues and occasionally organise forums to discuss the pros and cons
of GM crops.

Mr Sutat said the BAA welcomed non-governmental organisations and
universities to join the group, along with the private companies that
develop the biotechnology. Witoon Lianchamroon, director of Biothai, said
the main problem with GM issues is whose version of the information is
provided to the public, he said. "People need unbiased information to make
up their own minds."


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