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Current Status of Agricultural Biotechnology in Thailand

Current Status of Agricultural Biotechnology in Thailand by Orachos Napasintuwong, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Kasetsart University. Presented at the ReSAKSS-Asia - MIID conference "Evolving Agrifood Systems in Asia: Achieving food and nutrition security by 2030" on Oct 30-31, 2019 in Yangon, Myanmar.

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Current Status of Agricultural Biotechnology in Thailand

  1. 1. FAO GM Foods Platform Global Community Meeting, 10-13 September 2019 | Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers | Bangkok, Thailand Orachos Napasintuwong Kasetsart University, Thailand Regulatory practices for GM food safety assessment, consideration for Thailand
  2. 2. History of GM Development in Thailand • 1983 -- Establishment the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) • 1992 -- First country in the region to adopt national biosafety guidelines for both laboratory work and field testing and planned. • 1993 -- National Biosafety Committee (NBC) was established. • Subsequently Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs) were established by various research and academic institutes throughout the country. • 1994 -- The first field trial of GM crop was granted to Flavr Savr tomato • 1996 -- Field trial of Bt-cotton • 1997 -- Field trial of Bt-corn and GM papaya (ring spot virus resistant) • 1963 Codex member • 1995 WTO member
  3. 3. History of GM Development in Thailand • April 2001-- All open field trials of GM plants are prohibited until the National Biosafety Law is formulated and implemented. • 2003--NGO reported contamination of GM papaya in Khon Kaen where DOA field trials took place. • 2006--Thailand became member country of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. • 2007--NGO reported contamination of GM maize near Monsanto experimental station in Phitsanulok. • 25 December 2007-- the ban on GM crop field trials was revoked under a case-by-case approval by the cabinet. The requirements were considered restrictive. • 2013--Monsanto Thailand had planned to conduct a field trial for herbicide- resistant NK603 maize at Naresuan University, but after the university changed its mind on hosting the project. • Syngenta Thailand and Pioneer Thailand have reportedly discontinued their projects to conduct greenhouse trials of GM maize (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, 2018). • No GM crops have been approved for field trials since 2003
  4. 4. Situations of GM imports to Thailand • 17 March 2000--Under Plant Quarantine Act 1964, 40 plant species known to have undergone genetic transformation in the world were added to prohibited list. • 14 October 2003--Additional 49 transgenic plant varieties were added to prohibited list except for processed food • Exemption for imports: GM soybeans; GM maize for feed and industrial uses; GM cotton lint. • Exemption for imports: processed food products containing GM materials. • Imports of soybeans and cotton from the U.S. totaled 663 million USD in 2017, nearly all of which are GM products (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, 2018)
  5. 5. Trade disputes of exports containing GM from Thailand • 2000-2004--Trade dispute for import restriction of canned tuna fish in soybean oil from Thailand to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. • 2013-2017-- More than 40 shipments of papayas originating from Thailand were detected positive for GM contamination and rejected according to European Union Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, 2018). • 2014--DOA regulated that all exports of fresh or dried papaya or food products containing papaya to the EU and Japan are subject to GM detection testing prior to shipping. • 2016, formal criteria must be met for exporters of Thai fresh papaya export to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, China, and Japan (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, 2018).
  6. 6. GM Food labeling in Thailand • 2000 Ministry of Public Health’s Notification on GM Food Labeling • Mandatory labeling for designated products only. • 22 food items containing ingredients derived from GM soybean (and its products) and maize (and its products) • more than 5% of the total weight • in the top 3 components by weight and • containing more than 5% of GM components of each ingredient • Include a statement of “genetically modified” in conjunction with, or in close proximity to, the name of the food such as “genetically modified corn”. • Prohibit use of “GMO-free”, “non-GM”, “does not contain GM”, or other statements alike. • Not applied to small venders who produce and directly sell to consumers.
  7. 7. Examples of GM food labelling in Thailand
  8. 8. Current Biosafety Policies in Thailand • The NBC is no longer active. • The review of biosafety issues for GM plants and animals is conducted by the Technical Biosafety Committee, an adhoc technical advisor of BIOTEC. • Draft national biosafety policy for Thailand was produced and submitted to the Parliament, but has never been passed into law. • November 2015-- After receiving approval from the Cabinet, the draft Biosafety Act was rejected by the Prime Minister. • November 2016-- The new subcommittee was created to draft a new Biosafety Act. • 27 December 2016—The new Biosafety Act was completed. • Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment combined the draft Biosafety Law with the draft Biodiversity Law, and is still under and has not been submitted to the Cabinet for approval.
  9. 9. Existing Biosafety Guildelines in Thailand • Guidelines for the conduct of food safety assessment for foods produced using GM microbes & plants • 2016 Biosafety guidelines for R&D on Modern Biotechnology synthetic biology and genome editing technology covering microorganisms, plants & animals. • 2016 Biosafety guidelines for the use of GM microorganisms in pilot plants and the industry
  10. 10. • Emerging technology i.e. gene editing and changes in regulations across the globes i.e. GM food labelling in the US. • Deregulation of GM crops in neighbouring countries. • Exemptions of imported GM items? • Revision of GM food labelling? Further considerations
  11. 11. THANK YOU