World's Biggest Rice Exporter Sets GE-Free Rice Policy

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Manila, Philippines - Greenpeace today called on the Philippine government to follow the example of Thailand, the world's top rice exporter, and commit to keep rice production free of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). The call came as farmers and environmental activists in Thailand celebrated Thai Rice and Farmers' Day commending the country's GE-free rice policy.The GE-free rice policy, a key strategy in Thailand's Rice Masterplan, not only protects rice farmers and consumers, but also safeguards Thailand's thousands-year old rice heritage from the inherent risks posed by genetically-engineered (GE) crops. The strategy is widely seen as an acknowledgement embedded in government policy that GE crops are unnecessary and a risk to sustainable future for farming."This strategy gives Southeast Asia's rice farmers and consumers reason to celebrate -- and it's a blow for unscrupulous GMO crop promoters. A major global rice producer and exporter acknowledges that GMOs are a bad option for rice production. The Department of Agriculture should follow the Thai example and declare their commitment to keep rice farming sustainable and rice crops free of environmental and health risks associated with GE crops," said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.Greenpeace maintains that GMOs threaten the future and biodiversity of rice, and will make farming dependent on agricultural inputs exclusively owned by giant multinational corporations who control GMO technologies.Rice is the staple diet in Southeast Asia. But countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are being targeted by GMO promoters as guinea pigs for experimental-and risky-GE crops. Unchecked and unregulated corporate interest has made the Philippines a particularly vulnerable target. In 2007, tons of GMO-contaminated rice from Bayer was shipped undetected to the country from the US. …