Let's debate GM crops

''Innovations needed to feed the world'', (BP, April 9) by Gordon Conway demands a response. In 2000, when he was still head of the Rockefeller Foundation, Prof Conway complained that ''the crude polarisation in the debate on genetically modified crops is preventing proper discussion''. Is that the reason why he omits to mention in his article that he is a determined promoter of GMO technology? Recently he proudly announced that a research grant of US$10 million (about 290 million baht) was donated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop genetically modified crops capable of taking nitrogen from the air, with the promise that they will need less fertiliser.

Chemical fertilisers _ in contrast with organic fertilisers _ indeed cause serious deterioration of soils. So we have to innovate another technological response, within the same paradigm. Simple crop rotation and green manuring use plants, like clover and soya beans, that have this nitrogen-binding capacity naturally and already bear more safe and cost-effective results. The nitrogen nodes naturally formed by bacteria around the roots are added to the soil without the interference of GM technology. Farmers can do this without big companies which claim intellectual property and build networks of agrodealers, as Prof Conway calls them, trained to sell farmers dependence on high-tech solutions for low-tech problems.

I suspect Prof Conway leaves out this information so that proper discussion cannot take off. An international forum on innovating alternative markets, and the annual Green Fair which will take place next month at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, intends to provide a modest platform enabling small-scale farmers' movements from all over the world to have their say.

HANS VAN WILLENSWAARD


Don't select all senators

Re: ''Senate mired in mystery'', Postbag, April 10.

I do not believe Dom Dunn that Thai senators must be elected directly from the people to be good and democratic. Why?

He claims that the way of choosing selected senators is full of mystery. However, history has taught us that popularly elected senators tend to be more easily influenced by money and partisan politics than selected ones. We have also found that selected senators have used their various professional expertise and good reputations to help their country progress and maintain good governance.

As for elected senators, a few years ago, a number of them were rumoured to have been given Mercedes sedans by a certain political party for their votes in favour of a candidate for the Upper House. This was to smooth the passage of certain bills in favour of that party as against the good of the country.

It was also widely rumoured that some senators can be bought more cheaply ''when they come by the dozen''.

Hence, my question is: How do we solve this accumulative problem of corruption in our country? Do elections always translate into democracy every time?

VINT CHAVALA


Thatcher deserves respect

I was disgusted to see on the BBC news, people in Scotland stomping on a picture of Margaret Thatcher, and another picture in the Bangkok Post (April 10) of people in Glasgow, also in Scotland, celebrating her death. Regardless of one's political and nationalistic views, this behaviour and disrespect for the dead is beyond contempt.

As some obituaries stated, Thatcher was both loved and loathed, but there is no question, in my opinion, that her taking on the communist-backed unions, which once and for all wrecked Britain's once great mining, automobile and shipbuilding industries, rescued the country from further economic ruin.

It should also be noted that her eventual downfall within the Conservative Party was largely due to her objection to Britain joining the European Union and its single currency. As history now shows, she was certainly right about that.

As possibly the greatest ever non-wartime British and world leader, may she rest in peace.

MARTIN R


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