In a bid to reassure export markets, officials from the livestock department of the Thai government have conducted tests that appear to prove that the meat from chickens fed on GM feed is not tainted with any genetically modified residue.

The chicken export industry is worth at least 20bn baht a year in Thailand, leaving the director-general of the department, Rapeepong Wongdee, anxious to establish a Thai position on the issue of genetic modification. This export revenue may well find itself compromised as global trends demand specific GM labelling, consumer concern on GM grows and foreign buyers note the fact the 70% of Thailand's imported soybean meal derives from the US, which grows copious amounts of modified maize and soybean.

As from next year, the EU will require GM labelling on food containing only 1% GM content, while Japan is requiring similar notification on products that definitely contain over 5% and even all those that might contain some GM material.

Two hundred chicken samples, from birds fed on three types of feed, were examined by international standard tests at the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec). The results, which saw all the meat, liver, skin and small intestine test negative for GM material, prove that GM soybean is likely eliminated through the chickens' metabolic and digestive systems. 

Rapeepong revealed that soon other meat products would receive similar testing. A loan from the Asian Development Bank is to be used to build a central laboratory and upgrade standards of product inspection, with a view to establishing a system for issuing certificates for Thai exporters.