Thai government plans to enforce strict labelling of GM food products has received a mixed welcome with experts from the Thailand Biodiversity Centre commenting yesterday that enforced labelling could do more harm than good.

Sutat Sriwatanapongse, who also sits on the National Biosafety Committee (NBC), revealed that the labelling of GM food could bring two major problems. Importantly, there is no proof that GM is bad for human health, and labels could give consumers the wrong impression. “GM labels might frighten consumers.” He said. “They would believe that GM food is harmful.”

“GMOs are not hazardous substances which have to be placed under control,” he added. 

Another effect of labelling would be the potential increase of food prices by at least 20-30% due to the costs involved for manufacturers in testing food for GM content.

The government’s staunch opposition to all field trials of GM crops was also criticised by Sutat, who called the cabinet resolution “unacceptable.” He stresses that increased scientific research is essential if the government is to go ahead with labelling, and guaranteed that there would be no cross contamination of GM with conventional crops if the fields trials were resumed.

Among those who support the government’s labelling drive, is Witoon Lianchamroon, co-ordinator of the BioThai network of groups advocating protection of biological resources. He argued that “It is impossible to prevent GM crops from spreading” and therefore all field tests should be halted until the new biosafety act is completed.