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Thailand - GM maize contamination despite no commercial growing or field trials in the country.

Genetically-modified maize has been found at a local farm near agribusiness giant Monsanto's maize farm in Phitsanulok province.

The GM maize contamination was exposed yesterday by Biothai, a non-government organisation working on organic farming. The group collected 19 samples of maize, soybean and cotton from local plantations and farm shops in Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan and Sukhothai late last month and sent them for testing at Chulalongkorn University's food research and testing laboratory.

Test results of the first two samples, collected from a deserted farm in Phitsanulok's Wang Thong district, confirmed they are genetically-engineered maize, said Biothai director Witoon Lianchamroon. Results of tests on the remaining samples were expected to arrive soon, he added.

Commercial planting of transgenic crops is banned in Thailand. Experimental cultivation is allowed at laboratory and contained greenhouse levels.

Mr Witoon said the contaminated maize farm was located only a few hundred metres from Monsanto's plantations. However, it could not be confirmed at the moment if the GM maize spread from the firm's plantation.

According to the Agriculture Department's records, Monsanto obtained permission to import five kilogrammes of the maize from the United States in 1999 to plant on an isolated farm for experimental purposes.

Jirakorn Kosaisawe, deputy chief of the Agriculture Department, said he would send officials to collect maize samples from the area soon to verify the group's findings.

Director of Monsanto's commercial acceptance for Southeast Asia, Shanti Shamdasani, said in a statement the company would cooperate fully with Thai authorities to determine the circumstances of the matter.

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Further information

Samples of GM maize found at deserted farm - Bangkok Post 21st Dec 2007 >

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