If this draft bill is successfully passed by the Cabinet, this government will be the first government in Thailand to allow the unrestricted cultivation of GM crops. The Bill(officially the “Draft Biosafety Law”) will have a highly detrimental impact on Thailand’s food sovereignty and food security. No government in the last 20 years has agreed to take the country down this road!
This morning, 13 November 2015, in front of Government House, MsNantawanHandee, MrUbonYuwa, MsKingkornNarintarakul Na Ayutthaya, MrNimitTienudom, MrSamartSakawi, and MrWirapongKriengsinyos, and around 150 representatives of nine civil society organisations, led by the Alternative Agriculture Network, Food Security NetworkandFTAWatch,marched to Government House to submit a letter to Gen.Prayuth Chan-ocha opposing the draft GMO billas it will only benefit corporations. It also sets out why the signatories also oppose Thailand joining the Transpacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP)whichwouldallow a seeds monopolyandbring other impacts resulting from the expansion of patent monopoliesand corporate intellectual property rights.
Before submitting the letter, civil society networks and organisations carried out a symbolic action to mark their opposition. Men dressed in black business suit jackets, military camouflage trousers and boots, and wearing the hat of a rice farmer painted with the American flag, were seen treading and trampling over local farm produce, symbolizing the effect that the Bill would have of crushing our food sovereignty and food security.
After the symbolic action, and after making statements to explain why they cannot agree with the draft GMO Bill, or any moves to bring Thailand into the TPP, representatives of nine civil society organisations, including, the Alternative Agriculture Network, Food Security Network, FTA Watch, Consumer Foundation, AIDS Access Foundation, Biothai Foundation, Sustainable Agriculture Foundation (Thailand), ThaiPlus.Net (TNP+), Alcohol Industry Watch, and Healthy Forum, submitted their letter of objection to MrSuksawasdiSuwannawongse, Head of Public Liaison at Government House, as representative of the government.
Mr.Suksawasdi informed the protest group that he would submit the letter to the Prime Minister's Secretary, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and other relevant government units.
Below is the full text of the letter that was sent to the Prime Minister:
Alternative Agriculture Network
13 November 2015
Re: Hold off submitting the draft Biosafety Bill for consideration in the National Legislative Assembly and do not join the TPP
To General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand
Since the draft Biosafety Bill was submitted for consideration to the Cabinet, the Cabinet Secretary has requested comments from various different government agencies. If the Cabinet approves the draft bill, it will be submitted for consideration to the National Legislative Assembly who will pass it into law.
The Alternative Agriculture Network, the Food Security Network and the undersigned civil society groups, who are networks of farmers and NGOs who have been following the development of the terms of the draft law since 2001, are concerned that this draft law has serious flaws both in terms of the way in which the law has been developed and in its contents. These can be summarised as follows:
1. The National Reform Council issued a resolution to withdraw this draft Bill from consideration on 22 July 2015, because the Bill had been hastily submitted for fast-track consideration and contained clauses which would allow seed companies to escape responsibility for impacts or damages caused by GM crops. They also stated that it was unacceptable that the Drafting Committee for this Bill and the drafting process was not participatory, and did not seek to include the various sectors who will be burdened with the impacts ofGM crops.
2.1 The Bill seeks to allow GM crops without enshrining the “precautionary principle”. This is a central principle of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Thailand is a Party. The principle is there to protect against the long termpotential risks of consumption of GMOs, and to protectbiological resources, and the potential impacts on our economy and society.
We, the undersigned, urge you two consider the following actions:
1) Stop the process of consideration of this draft Biosafety Bill in Cabinet
We urge you to take this into consideration,
Representatives of the Alternative Agriculture Network, Food Security Network, FTAWatch, Consumer Foundation, AIDS Access Foundation, BIOTHAI Foundation, Sustainable Agriculture Network (Thailand), Thaiplus.net (TNP+), Alcohol Industry Watch, Healthy Forum,