Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Nation: Let rationality decide GMO debate


The Nation

The Agriculture Ministry has said it would, at a later date, submit a proposal to the Surayud Cabinet to lift the ban on field trials of genetically modified organisms (GMO), which has been in force for the past six years. The ministry, which was earlier scheduled to table the proposal at yesterday's Cabinet meeting, withheld it without giving a reason why. Officials at the ministry insisted that Thailand, one of the world's major food producers, must restart field tests of genetically modified crops to keep up with advances in global research and to maintain the country's competitiveness.


As usual, The Nation is on the wrong side of the debate.

Right now I am in the US. I would say that the trend is moving away from genetically modified foods and towards organic. The organic food movement is strong here.

In terms of competitive advantage, I think that moving towards organic farming would be in the best interests of Thailand. After all, would you want Thai scientists genetically modifying your food? I certainly don't.

Unfortunately, many of the faux-intellectual types, like the ones at The Nation, think genetically altered foods would benefit Thailand.

I don't think so.

The better marketing strategy would be for Thailand to announce that it is free from genetically modified farming, then market itself as the organic food market of the world, with public policy supporting that direction.

Thailand should not follow, as The Nation suggests, the genetically modified food market trend just because other countries are doing it. Where is the comparative advantage in that?

Quite frankly, I thought of getting skills in organic farming from the US, and bring that tech to Thailand, because I see a lot of long-term potential in organic farming. Plus, Thai farmers should be looking towards getting a premium price for their products rather than racing towards the bottom to chase China and other low cost producers. Right now, the US is rejecting Chinese farm products because of safety issues.

Thailand should embrace organic and embrace safety instead of going the cheap and easy route that it always does.


hobby said...

Good points, Fonzi.

Something must be in the air & water because I agree with Fonzi again (both here and over at New Mandala re Kissinger/Chatchai/Anand) - What's going on?

In relation to Organic farming - Possibly the Asoke group may have knowledge & expertise, or are they too caught up in religious matters?

fall said...

GMO food scare me less than hormone-stuff farm chicken.

But to relate GMO to Thailand's competitiveness is absurd. Thai does not have the problem of low production, but the problem of price, logistic, and penetrating the export market.

By endorsing GMO, without any existing international standard of acceptance, it would only serve as a good excuse for importer to ban Thai export and Thai goods credibility.

Fonzi said...


I have a good friend who has a cattle farm right outside Bangkok. The hormones should scare you.

sooksiam said...

Genetically modified food might not benefit Thailand right now, but in the long term, it could serve its full purpose. Can Fonzi foresee what will happen to this planet in the future? The ice is melting as a consequence of global warming; and high temperatures will affect the way many farmers around the world carry out their work. I am not a farmer or a scientist, but I reckon it will be better for the country to have a second strategy such as genetically modified farming. I quite agree that Thailand will perform well in organic farming. Even so, what would happen if farmers cannot grow their stuff because of many environmental issues? I quite understand that Fonzi has a phobia of the Nation but waging war on the paper in relation to this issue is simply piteous. Maybe a Thai scientist might be able to genetically alter food that could help get rid of your long-lasting obsession with a high-grade and informative newspaper like the Nation; or at the very least, genetically modified products may help to reduce your instinctive urge to externalise your uncalled for platitudes towards the paper.

Fonzi said...


Yeah, it is hard to write off GMO completely, because who knows about the environment, but from a marketing point of view and getting farmers out of poverty and keeping them healthy and safe with a pure food supply, I think organic is the way to go.