Media War

exposing media bias in Thailand

Floods, GMO rice – chronicles #1


Problem-Reaction-Solution

 

These are just some articles, links and quotes related to floods, GMO rice, water control,

collected from online search for the sake of following up with and keeping updated on this issue.

First the most fresh article from Reuters :

Floods may damage quarter of Thai rice crop, exports hit   Fri Oct 28, 2011

THREAT TO NEXT RICE CROP

Thailand’s Apichart said the government was worried about a farm rehabilitation plan and a seed shortage in the next, smaller crop, as most of the paddy seed stored in farmers’ granaries had been washed away by floods. “This could mean a drop in the next second smaller crop as well, as we lack paddy seed,” Apichart said, adding that no immediate estimates of the second crop loss were available.

What does that mean? that this shortage will have to be compensated from somewhere. Guess from where? ;)

Let us wait and see – I’m sure it won’t take that long. Because Problem (destruction of crops & staple food) has been already created, now with this article Phase #2 started – getting the Reaction. and soon the phase #3 will be started: offering the Solution. Which is of course, “help” of urgently importing (or even obtaining as “charity”?) from elsewhere of badly needed lacking seeds, then distributing them to all the affected farmers as best choice alternative, like having “flood resistant gene”, giving higher yield etc.

I bet soon after government officials will learn the “proper water management” – no doubt! and then miraculously floods will stop, or reduce considerably – not happen on such a huge and devastating scale ! :D

Some related earlier articles, which are important nevertheless, because they have been preparing the base for final outcome:

BBC: US mulls backing ‘medicine rice’   – 6 March 2007

Authorities in the United States have given preliminary approval to a plan to grow rice genetically modified to produce human proteins. Rice plants including human genes involved in producing breast milk would be grown in the state of Kansas. The company behind the proposal, Ventria Bioscience, says the plants could be developed into medicines for diarrhoea and dehydration in infants. Critics say parts of the rice plants could enter the food chain. Under the proposal, which received preliminary backing from the US Department of Agriculture last week, Ventria would plant rice over some 3,000 acres (1,215 ha) of farmland in the mid-western state.

A bit more on this curious company Ventria, which is so much concerned about well being of human that injects their genes into plants:

You’re Eating Your Neighbor and It’s None Of Your Business

Fast food shops even label coffee cups to warn consumers that the content is hot. But if that rice you and your family are eating contains the human genes of your next-door neighbor, well, that’s just none of your business.

California-based Ventria Bioscience produces the rice; permit applications (APHIS numbers 06-278-01r, 06-278-02r and 06-285-02r)3,200 acres of the modified rice is being planted in Junction City, Kansas.The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the planting permit.

Initially Ventria Bioscience had sought to have this Genetically Modified Rice, which is engineered using Human Genes, to be grown within the state of Missouri. However Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. a beer maker and rice buyer in Missouri, threatened to boycott all rice from the state of Missouri, should Ventria’s rice be planted in their state. Anheuser-Busch’s concerns were the same as so many others – that this crop of engineered variety would spread, polluting the non-engineered, and the wild plants. So the plan for Missouri was abandoned, and Junction City, Kansas gets the problem.

The concerns of pollution by genetically engineered plants were substantiated in Arkansas the very same day that the USDA gave the green light to Ventria Bioscience for their genetically engineered rice. On that day, it was announced that rice seed in Arkansas had been found to be contaminated by an entirely different – not approved for human consumption – genetically engineered strain of rice seed. It literally spreads with the wind, for miles and miles. There is already widespread contamination of rice in the U.S. with yet another genetically modified strain.

Actually, contamination is pretty common. Even when they ‘aren’t approved for human consumption’. Here’s a few, compliments of the GM Contamination Register:

27th April 2007
Unauthorized GM in rice protein for animal feed.

5th March 2007
USA- US Department of Agriculture stops planting and distribution of contaminated long grain rice.

26th January 2007
Japan – Noodles and rice flour from China Contaminated with Bt63 GM rice

According to Ventria, the rice has been genetically modified to produce proteins found in human breast milk, saliva and tears. Genetically engineered rice lines producing recombinant human lactoferrin, lysozyme or serum albumin found exclusively within its seeds.

Ventria’s genetically engineered rice would allow the ‘cheap’ production of immune proteins for a pharmaceutical product to lessen the severity and duration of diarrhea in infants and children.

It is even seeking FDA approval to add the protein to foods, such as yogurt and granola.

Farming Pharmaceuticals: Ventria Bioscience and the Controversy over Plant-Made Medicines  –  Jan 22, 2009, Case study

This case focuses on the challenges facing Ventria Bioscience, a small biotechnology firm based in California. The company had developed an innovative technology for “growing” medical proteins useful in the treatment of childhood diarrhea in genetically modified rice.

Well, those who wants to dig deeper into this matter, say, find out how this Ventria company is (surely) connected to some large Pharma corporations and / or funded by some foundations, I guess a place to start would be – checking its Board of Directors ( _http://www.ventria.com/about-ventria/board-of-directors/) and perhaps also Team Management (_http://www.ventria.com/about-ventria/management-team/) and then do some thorough search about those fellows. Interesting also to read the News section of their website (_http://www.ventria.com/content/category/news/)

Alright, let’s get back to other articles …

Climate change to spur dev’t of GM crops in Asia  – October 11, 2011

new technologies are likely to be more readily embraced in Asian countries, which are home to 60 percent of the world’s population… Biotechnologists say they are being pushed to develop genetically modified solutions to improve crop yields and disease resistance in the face of a growing food shortage in the region. Drought-tolerant crop species and pesticide-resistant crops are being held up as possible solutions to feed the growing population which will require a vastly increased amount of food. Dafang said he expects governments in the region, and particularly in China, to support the research, development and cultivation of GM crops to feed their growing population… In China, there are at least 10 varieties of GM crops that have been certified for field release, including new species of rice, corn, cotton, soybean, rape, and potato to name a few… Biotechnology experts in Asia, who met at a forum in Jakarta, Indonesia, in July, have urged governments throughout the region to support the cultivation of GM crops...

Well, well – looks like China is also pushing forward hard development, acceptance and usage of GMO rice? That would possibly related to their controlling flow of Mekong river through their dams (and soon constructed new) – and possibly “helping” to speed up that process of acceptance – by methodical flushing the Southern neighbors (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam) – who has even formed a Mekong River Summit, held 1st time in APr 2010 in Hua Hin, attended even by non the less by H. Clinton herself, head of US State Dep. Read pretty detailed explanation of “Lower Mekong Initiative” (_http://www.state.gov/p/eap/mekong/faq/). In July 2011 H. Clinton has addressed these 4 countries on this matter at Summit in Bali, Indonesia:  Clinton calls for pause on dams

Clinton’s comments come on the heels of a resolution introduced last month by three leading US senators calling on the US to wield its influence to delay the proposed dams.

In April, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam failed to agree on whether to end discussions on Laos’ plans to build the first such proposal – the US$3.8 billion, 1,285 megawatt Xayaburi dam – instead deferring a decision on the matter until later this year. Both Cambodia and Vietnam have called for further study of the project’s impact.

Letters leaked last month from the Lao Ministry of Mines and Energy and Xayaburi Power, a subsidiary of the Thai company backing the project, indicate that Laos has given the go-ahead on a power purchasing agreement with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

Oops ! Looks like in fact those plans for those dams in Mekong river even though in Laos, are the projects of Thai and Chinese companies? I didn’t realize that! So, apparently Thailand is playing a “double game” in this? On one side trying to keep face and maintain good relations with USA, which is desperately trying to restore its influence in Indochina. On other side practically already engaged in the process of construction of dams with China. LOL ! :D

If it is so indeed – then that would explain lack (or rather total absence) of information about whether all the water in current floods in Thailand is coming from the North, from China. Because naturally, Thailand would prefer to deffer to its giant neighbor AND business partner – whose economy is in much better shape than of USA, which is in deep sh1t debts, BTW borrowing from China. Hmmmm, that’s quite a tangled plot ! Especially if add to that Japan’s interests (search for “Mekong-Japan Summit from Nov. 6 to 7, 2009 in Tokyo“)
Another interesting web-page dedicated to GMO rice: it says there that this page is “financially supported by the European Union within the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme”, and interesting part:

China leads the pack in rice breeding research, where hopes are high for new insect resistant cultivars. The Chinese government is currently carrying out systematic field trials on these new cultivars. Results have shown that most farmers using GM rice were able to completely stop spraying their fields. In contrast, conventional rice varieties are sprayed, on average, three to four times per growing season. The cultivation of GM rice in China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines is expected in the near future

From very recent anti-GMO rally in NYC this month, Oct 2011:

Eaters demand right to know if GMO  –  October 16, 2011

“Genetic engineering means every day is Halloween,” said Howard Brandstein from the NOFA New York Policy Committee. “Golden rice,” for example, “has very high amounts of vitamin E, allegedly to improve the eye sight of third world peoples but it has so much vitamin A that you would probably need two or three sets of eyes to absorb all of this vitamin A.”

Waterproof rice passes international field tests5 December 2008

Sub1′ rice is identical to the high-yielding varieties popular with both farmers and consumers across Asia, except that it contains a single gene that gives it ‘waterproof’ qualities… Scientists inserted the gene into other rice varieties and found that it became switched on when a plant was submerged. It acts to make the plant dormant, allowing it to conserve energy until the floodwaters recede. It also countermands the rice plant’s normal strategy when submerged — to extend its stem and leaves in an attempt to escape the water…

Mackill said flooding is even beneficial {huh?!}  to the rice, which produces five tons for each hectare submerged for up to two weeks. He added that an ordinary rice variety without the ‘sub1A’ gene produces less than one ton per hectare… “Within the next two years, the varieties will be disseminated to small farmers in flood-prone areas.

The field trials mark the completion of a project funded for the past five years by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Isn’t it interesting? ;) Already back in 2008 it was said: that within 2 years “waterproof rice” (aka GMO !) will be distributed to famers affected by floods. and that’s precisely what happend last year here in Thailand, when farmers were given “free” rice after their paddies were utterly devastated by floods, as I recall in Isaan.

Now, who is this David Mackill? lest check: he is leading rice researcher at IRRI, who assures that:

Nothing wrong with GMOs

In my opinion, I think that GMOs will be accepted at some point in the near future and it’s going to give us a lot of tools for further improvement of rice that we don’t have now… Some of the things we do now by conventional breeding are quite laborious, for example, combining several genes from different parents into a single variety. I think GM technology will give us a way to do that much quicker and easier…  so my personal opinion is that there’s nothing wrong with it

and it is no wonder that he is practically working for the interests of ….

I became aware of a project of the Rockefeller Foundation that gave students fellowships to work overseas at one of the international centers.

So [in 1978], Ronnie Coffman helped me set up my thesis research on heat tolerance in rice at IRRI

Why I’m not surprised?  BTW it is interesting to examine closely who are sponsors and donors of IRRI

Climate Change in Thailand: Impacts and Adaptation Strategies

July 2008

Agriculture, and especially rice production, is an essential component of Thailand’s economy and culture…

In 2007, Thailand produced 28 million tons of rice, compared with 636 million tons worldwide. That year, Thailand exported 9 million tons of rice, more than any other country. (Southeast Asia collectively produces 150 million tons of rice a year, 95% of which is consumed in the region; agricultural challenges facing Thailand, and the solutions for coping, often apply to its neighbors.) Historically, Thai farmers grew tens of thousands of varieties, although genetic modifications have reduced that number drastically... Rice production also determines food security for many countries, as it is the only major grain grown exclusively for food and provides over one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide. The 2008 food crisis demonstrated the effects of rising rice prices on impoverished nations, worrying politicians and farmers alike.

Thailand : Flood : 2007/09/05-2007/10/28

The flood started on 2007-09-05 and ended on 2007-10-28, with a duration of 54 days. This flood has severity class 1. The main cause is Monsoonal rain. The recurrence interval is 13. Reports indicate that 10 person(s) have been killed and 17000 have been displaced.

(there is also brief archive of reports on Thai floods for past 10 years: Latest Disaster Information of Thailand)

China damned over floods Aug 23, 2008

many Thais believe waters released from the reservoirs of three upstream Chinese dams swelled the runoff from heavy rainfalls. They also blame China’s recent blasting and dredging of upstream river rapids to make the river navigable for large cargo vessels for rising water levels.

That may or may not be the case, but China’s lack of transparency is fueling suspicions. The Mekong River Commission (MRC), a multinational grouping made up of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam responsible for sustainable development and water resource management of the Mekong, said in a statement that the high water levels were the result of above average rainfall and not the result of upstream Chinese dams opening sluice gates… The MRC also noted that just half of the flood waters in Vientiane originated in China with the rest from Mekong tributaries, namely the Nam Ou and Nam Khan rivers… But the Thai People’s Network on the Mekong, a grouping of several Thai environmental organizations, openly rejected the MRC’s reasoning for the floods in an August 16 statement, calling for China to free up information on its dams. There also appears to be lingering doubts among some top government officials… Even the MRC in Thailand, in contradiction to the statement from the organization’s headquarters, has said it will ask the Thai Foreign Ministry for help in requesting more information from China about its dams… China has remained reluctant to reveal information about its dams, including its own environmental and hydrological studies of their impact...

Flood-hit areas in Thailand declared disaster zones Nov 08, 2009

Flood-affected districts in Narathiwat, Satun, Trang, Songkhla and Phatthalung were yesterday declared disaster zones as the South was hit by torrential rain.

Thailand: Worst flooding in decades 21 Oct 2010

Thai Flooding Is Called Worst in Decade 21 Oct 2010

Rice research pays off in South-East Asia – 25 October 2011

This year has seen the worst recorded flooding in parts of Thailand and the Philippines. Last week, the Philippines agriculture department reported that only a rice variant with a certain flood-resistant gene withstood the 14-hour flash flood brought about by the recent typhoons.

Spreading GMO seeds in SEA:

GM corn: Harvest in, jury still out Jun 3, 2003

As genetically modified corn began to be harvested for the first time last month the focus of the Philippines’ debate on biotechnology crops began shifting to fears that the commercial planting of this corn variety may lead to the contamination of other agricultural produce.

Farmers and environmentalists opposed to the commercial distribution of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn, the transgenic crop now being sold to corn growers by the giant US seed company Monsanto under the brand name YieldGard 818, have been alerting the government and the public to the potential risks of this move. They say it could lead to the irreversible contamination of non-genetically engineered seeds and crops as a result of cross-pollination.

The battle over GMOs   Jun 3, 2003

The US accounts for at least 20 percent of Asia’s $1 trillion food market each year, and the administration of President George W Bush has openly used its diplomatic clout to influence GMO rulings. China, Japan, South Korea, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Philippines have all introduced regulations that appear to be designed to stall US actions while many quietly pursue their own GMO research programs…

Fears in Thailand over possible contamination of the biggest global rice export crop led to the introduction of mandatory labeling and a ban on all GMO products other than for use in government-led trials.When the issue was raised at a ministerial gathering of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) caucus in Thailand this month, the topic was referred to a panel of scientific advisors, thus ensuring there will be no early decision. But Washington has been able to use its leverage against individual countries, often with an implied threat of trade sanctions or cutbacks in development aid... And diplomats said the US threatened unspecified retaliation against the Thai government last year after it banned the commercial importing of 37 GMO food crops on safety grounds.

Thai biotech battle targets papaya   Nov 16, 2004

The government is fighting tooth and nail to cover up the fact that it is the cause of the environmental disaster currently plaguing Thai papaya farms…” The environmental group said it had valid concerns when it twice tested batches of papaya seeds, from native species Khak Dam Tha Phra, sold by the research station to farmers. “Independent laboratory tests have shown that packages of papaya seeds being sold by the department of agriculture’s own research station contain genetically modified seeds,” said Varoonvarn Svangsopakul, Greenpeace’s GMO campaigner.

The experimental field, surrounded only by barbed wire and banana trees, was identified by Greenpeace as the source of the genetically modified seeds,” she added. “The government must act now to impose a total ban on GM crop field trials – including those in government restricted areas and experimental stations.”

Added Witoon Lianchamroon, director of BioThai, an environmental group working on the preservation of biodiversity in Thailand: “It has become very clear to the Thai people that we cannot allow a small group of scientists, or even the government, to take decisions on their own about running field trials of GM crops.”

The best way to control contamination is to stop all GM field trials,” he stressed. “When GMOs leak into the environment – and it doesn’t matter if they are approved or unapproved – no one can control pollination and no one can prevent contamination. This causes problems not only in terms of food safety, but with our whole food system.”

The seeds of a bribery scandal in Indonesia Jan 20, 2005

JAKARTA – St Louis-based Monsanto has been forced to pay $1.5 million in fines after owning up to spending more than $700,000 on bribes … to at least 140 current and former Indonesian government officials and their family members, from 1997 to 2002… Soleh Solahudin, who was agriculture minister from 1998 to 1999 and visited the company’s US headquarters at its invitation, confirmed after a meeting with the KPK that both Monsanto and its local subsidiary, PT Monagro Kimia, had lobbied him to allow the cultivation of GM crops in Indonesia… A Monsanto manager and the “lobbyist” got Indonesia to approve “Monsanto’s Bollgard Cotton, a GM crop,” in South Sulawesi… Farmers who had bought the experimental seeds on credit ended up indebted to Monsanto. Friends of the Earth International quoted a Sulawesi farmer, Santi, as saying, “The company didn’t give the farmers any choice, they never intended to improve our well-being, they just put us in a debt circle, took away our independence and made us their slave forever. They try to monopolize everything, the seeds, the fertilizer, the marketing channel and even our life.

This article propagating GMO rice has VERY EXTENSIVE selection of references to many other articles and video on the matter:

New flood-tolerant rice offers relief for world’s poorest farmers

Also recommended this quite educational video:

HAARP-Weapon of Destruction

October 29, 2011 - Posted by | "Rice money", Media Control, Propaganda, Thai MSM | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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