Forbidden. Genetically modified cotton can't be field-tested in Thailand.

GMOs Thai-ed Up

Thailand has become the first Asian country to ban the release of genetically modified crops into the environment. The 3 April decision orders the agriculture ministry "to halt all genetically engineered crop field trials" and to set up a panel of scientists, farmers, and consumers to draft a biosafety law.

The action would halt ongoing field trials of Bt cotton by the St. Louis-based biotechnology firm Monsanto. This type of cotton has been genetically engineered to produce a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The toxin is supposed to kill insects that try to eat the plant.

A Bangkok spokesperson for Monsanto says that the government has not yet notified the company of the ban. First-year results of its Bt-containing Bollgard cotton variety were "very promising," she added.

Jiragorn Gajaseni, head of Greenpeace's Southeast Asia office, hopes the decision will "encourage [other Asian countries] to follow suit." In 1999 the Thai government banned the import of genetically modified seeds for commercial cultivation but allowed imports for research.

Related sites

Information from Monsanto about Bt cotton
Greenpeace's campaign against GMOs

Posted in Biology