Greenpeace’s protest against the lifting of a ban on open-field trials of genetically-modified (GM) papaya yesterday was met with an unexpected reaction from a crowd of onlookers.
Passers-by took matters, and tonnes of papayas dumped by Greenpeace, into their own hands, and ran off.
The environmental group dumped the papayas in front of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry yesterday to make its objection to the lifting of the ban loud and clear to the government.
It was the second protest about the controversial issue in five days after reports the ministry will today seek cabinet approval for the lifting of the ban on open-field trials of transgenic crops.
But this time, after the dumping, people flocked to load up on the free papayas, ignoring the environmental organisation’s campaign against the dangers of GM fruit — a message Greenpeace has been trying to get through to the government and the public for years.
Many passers-by, who mostly knew nothing about transgenic fruit, said they did not care about any health risks.
They were just thinking about how hungry they were.
”I don’t care if they’re dangerous,” said papaya salad seller Gig Krueyat, 70. ”I don’t know what the threat is … nothing serious, I think …”
Mrs Gig helped herself to three sacks of the fruit in minutes. Others, including some ministry officials and Rasi Salai dam protesters from Sri Sa Ket province who were camped near the ministry, also did not let the opportunity slip by.
A man waiting in traffic for the lights to go green near the ministry, leapt out of his car and joined the feast.
”I’m not scared of GM papayas. Rather, I’m scared I won’t have any to eat,” said Ubon Ratchathani villager Ampon Tantima, 31, before rushing back to his car with the free fruit….