'They are novel DNA-changing techniques that blur the lines around what is and what isn't genetic engineering. Their names alone are fuse blowing: zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN), TALENs (transcription activator-like effector nucleases), cisgenics, oligo-directed mutagenesis (ODM) and others.
These molecular technologies, which target specific genes, offer potential to breed crops, trees and animals with desirable traits and block out less desired aspects more accurately and efficiently than traditional GM and non-GM techniques'.
'It sets up the potential for exporters to inadvertently send traces of a ZFN organism to Europe and potentially trigger market objections," Terry says.
He cites kiwifruit as an example of a crop that could be inadvertently contaminated through the spread of pollen from pines with ZFN-altered DNA'.
It's thus funny to see the opposition trying to make hay out of the scheme (Nation, 28). As if they have a ready answer for the non-urban electorate. And as the PM says, we know what the shortcomings are, no news there.
In the past month the IMF waded into the Thai debate slash quagmire (Bangkok Post, Nov. 13).
It urges a rethink.
Because it is eroding public confidence in Thailand's finances.
Well, so may be, but confidence in the country has long ago ebbed away and the constant cycle of protest / counter protest / election landslides and mini-coups has a lot more to do with that ....
'This helps boost the economy, as farmers’ income will rise and their debt will decline. As such, their purchasing power is increasing ...'.
Well, the cost of the scheme may not reflect well on the benefits, the potential for financial ruin remains. Debt may well go up. Too much middle man involvement (reading skimming). And graft possibilities.
The Bangkok Post (Nov. 20) notes that the government will put a 3-year bond on the market to finance further purchases. Will it be succesful? It might as it provides higher returns for investors. And more debt for the government ...
However, despite this cash infusion (and delay in payments), liquidity of Thailand's agricultural bank (BAAC) seems to be ok (Bangkok Post, Nov. 23).
That's why there is no need for the sale of bonds? That might contradict earlier plans, so lets assume they are still on the rails. The rice pledge scheme will receive a new infusion of cash (Bangkok Post, Oct. 30), that's all. And so will others ...'Previously, the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) disclosed a plan to raise funds of 140 billion baht for the 2013-14 main crop, with 75 billion baht to be raised through government bonds to finance the scheme and borrowing in the form of term loans. "Part of the proceeds from the PDMO will be used to repay the bank for the accrued debt from the subsidy where it is supposed to be cleared by thefiscal-2014 budget. The bank's liquidity crunch is an immediate crisis, so we need to use the budget to handle this first," said Mr Tanusak. He insisted that by doing so, the government's paddy scheme is financially manageable'.
How much is lost is a big question mark.
'poverty stricken nations'.
'Nipon Poapongsakorn, a former president of the Thailand Development Research Institute and now a fellow at the TDRI, also questioned the validity and viability of the contract, noting that China's state state enterprises are allowed to import only half the yearly total, with the balance to be handled by private Chinese firms'.
'The results of the earlier tenders were disappointing. The government sold just 240,000 tonnes of rice in three tenders in July and August out of the 660,000 tonnes offered and another 53,000 tonnes out of the 300,339 tonnes offered in October.Buyers would prefer to obtain fresh rice from the current harvest than buy from the stocks, traders said'.
Others seek to address how much rice is stocked and hanging above the market.
Oryzae.com (Nov. 21) mentions stocks taken by USDA are near to 15 million tonnes, excluding the 2 million recently pledged.
'The Thai holdings will surge 18% to 14.9 million tonnes in 2013 and 2014, the International Grains Council forecasts....Bad weather that hurt crops in the Philippines as well as in India will provide price support in the near term, said Samarendu Mohanty, senior economist at the International Rice Research Institute, based in Los Banos, the Philippines. Output in India may drop as much as five million tonnes to about 100 million to 105 million tonnes in 2013 and 2014, Mohanty said."With these Philippines and India cases, and China importing more, I don't think the price will go down any more," said Mohanty, forecasting a gain of as much as $30 a tonne by the end of March. "The upside is limited by ample supply in the market and stockpiles in Thailand."'
'Thailand is maintaining its original projection to export seven million tonnes of rice this year and is set to reclaim its previous role as world’s top rice exporter next year, according to the Commerce Ministry'.
Away from the serious business (or not?), the Not the Nation (Nov. 20) announces that the rice stacks will be transformed:
!!!'Attempting to counter accusations of economic mismanagement, the government unveiled today a bold proposal to turn all of its unsold rice stocks into a “world-class tourist attraction and sports destination” by creating the world’s largest artificial ski mountain.At a joint press conference with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra revealed images of the proposed 340-meter high hill, complete with five automated chairlifts and a 200-room ski lodge and hotel at the base'.
Charoen Pokprahand (CP) chairperson Dhanin Chearavanont explains (Bangkok Post, Oct. 27) that the way forward is to cut rice production by a third!
'He suggested the government urge farmers to cut down their rice planting and grow other crops by offering a subsidy of 1,500 baht per rai. Supply would shrink and that should drive up prices'.
'Thailand said that it will press on with a $21 billion rice-purchase program, spurning a call from the International Monetary Fund to end the loss-making intervention and telling the lender its approach is better'.
'Khao Leum Pua black glutinous rice and Rice Berry, two highly nutritious grains with strong demand'.
Malaysian Insider (Oct. 30) notes that export prices for Thai riceare at a 3 year low ... Outlook is for prices to drop further ...
'Even small amounts of arsenic, over a long time, can cause cancer of the bladder, kidney, lung or skin, previous research has found'.
'In fact, Oxfam and numerous other NGOs oppose the GFP in its entirety. It "threatens to turn small farmers into mere appendages of the business and agriculture models of agro-business", according to the Environment and Development Forum, a broad alliance including Oxfam, the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) and the human rights organisation FIAN'.
'Domestic media reported last week that Burma’s export earnings have already slumped about US$100 million so far in this financial year because of weaker harvests caused by poor weather. But a bigger problem is an export market bloated with better-quality rice than Burmese growers can produce, said Samarendu Mohanty, an economist with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)'.
Another country affected by the less than optimal export market for rice is of course Vietnam. Export projections have been revised downward so says Vietnam News (Nov. 11):
'The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) readjusted the rice export target for 2013 from 7.5 million tons to 6.7 million, reflecting four months of decreased exports....Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh told Vietnam News Agency that the country's low rice export turnover was due to competition from India and Pakistan in the African market.The two countries' favorable geographical locations made their transport fees more competitive, while difficulties in payment and transport forced Vietnam's exporters to rely mostly on intermediaries, he said'.
'“The rice volume in stock is modest, which may be not enough to fulfill the signed contracts. Meanwhile, the sale on the domestic market goes well,” Tuan [Le Thanh Tung, a senior official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)]said.“We fear that we may miss the opportunity to export rice to the Philippines, when the country needs more rice to relive the people in the typhoon stricken areas,” he added'.