Thailand: Global Impact of Biotech Crops: Economic and Environmental Effects, 1996-2018

Brookes provided data about the impact of GM maize in the Philippines and Vietnam, countries that are similar to Thailand in terms of climate and agricultural settings. For the Philippines, Brookes reported that GM maize with insect resistance, herbicide tolerance, and stacked traits had an increased yield impact of 5.3%, 18.2%, and 23.5%, respectively. The total farm income gain from 2002 to 2018 is USD 972.6 million with a production impact of 4.29 million tons. Vietnam, on the other hand, adopted stacked maize technology in 2015. As of 2019, 10.2% of maize in Vietnam uses this technology. It brought the farmers' average income gain from USD 195.67 per hectare to USD 329.75 per hectare, and almost doubled their average return of investment from USD 6.84 per hectare to USD 12.55 per hectare for every extra USD 1.00 spent on the seed.

Mr. Danai Narkprasert of the Biotechnology Research and Development Office of the Department of Agriculture reported the status of agri-biotechnology in Thailand and emphasized that Thailand considers biotechnology as an important agricultural opportunity and has included it in its National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy for 2012-2021 with multiple government agencies involved in the regulation of GMOs and its products.

Mr. Sukan Sangwanna of the Federation of Agricultural Safety also gave a presentation on the farmer's view on biotech crops. Sukan, who is a multi-awarded farmer in Thailand, believes that biotechnology is a solution to farmers' problems because it produces better-quality crops faster and more efficiently than conventional crops. Contrary to popular belief, Sukan said that farmers are not afraid of GM crops because they bring more advantages than disadvantages, and that both GM crops and biotechnology are known to be science-based. According to his presentation, it is the GM-opposing organizations, who are not farmers nor agriculture professionals, that object to the farmers' use of GM crops thus hindering Thailand's prosperity. Sukan also appealed to the Thai government to pass the Biosecurity Law of the country so that farmers will finally gain access to GM crop adoption.