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Agriculture: Thais urged to reject political parties which support bilateral FTAs and GM crops

Thais urged to reject political parties which support bilateral FTAs

BANGKOK, Nov 22 (TNA) - Thailand’s leading agricultural activist network has urged Thais not to vote for political parties which back free trade agreements and genetically modified (GM) crops research at next February’s general election.

Millions of farmers will be severely affected when cheaper imported agriculture products flood the country, and there is a more liberal policy on the cultivation and research of GM plants, a senior member of the network, Chinda Boonchan, told TNA.

“The free trade agreements, Thailand has already signed and will sign in the future, will directly lead to the collapse of the country’s agricultural sector and bankrupt more than then ten million small and poor farmers,” according to Mr. Chinda.

The liberalisation of research and the cultivation of GM plants would also destroy a variety of local crops and allow powerful transnational companies to dominate Thailand’s domestic agricultural market, he cautioned.

The network also urged Thailand’s political parties to adopt five basic principles.

They include the establishment of a national committee on sustainable agriculture - with at least half its members directly elected from local networks for sustainable agriculture—, the setting up of an independent national institute for sustainable agriculture, the creation of a system to assure small farmers access to natural resources and to involve them in resource management, the promotion of sustainable agriculture among 10,000 poor farmers and their families, and the setting up of an independent consumers’ body to help solve food problems in the country, like monitoring the sale of toxic agriculture products, and to creat agricultural alternatives in the society, like the sustainable agriculture.

The farmers’ network made the appeal to the country’s political parties at a joint press conference over the weekend in the lead up to the forthcoming election on 13 February, 2005.

 source: MCOT