(29 June) Spokesman of
the US Embassy in Bangkok insisted that the US food agency is not placing a quarantine alert on rice
imports from Thailand as claimed by anti-government critics.
Certain media agencies have reported,without
citing verifiable source, that the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) has prevented all shipments of Thai
rice grains from entering the US mainland due to supposed fear that rice under the Thai program is
heavily contaminated with dangerous chemicals.
The report appears to coincide with the ongoing opposition to Thai government′s rice
mortgage scheme, which the critics say are costing taxpayers billions of baht and reducing Thai rice
industry′s capability to compete on global market. Supporters of the program contend that it is a
much needed subsidy to Thai farmers, albeit a poorly implemented one.
Today, the personal
secretary to Mr. Korn Chatikavanit, a prominent member
of the Thai opposition party, has publishedon
his Facebook account a screenshot of FDA website that he said is an order by the FDA to quarantine
all shipments of Thai rice at every port on the American mainland.
In his Facebook post, Mr.
Noch Hautavanija also cited the story previously reported by The Nation and Thai Rath newspapers,
which had been vehemently denied by top officials in Thai government.
However, a quick
inspection would reveal that the FDA alert notice mentioned by Mr. Noch as
evidence is in fact a very broad order instructing FDA agents to detain shipments of food imported
from various companies and countries that are suspected of containing dangerous
The said order affects wide-ranging products, and it did not mention the Thai rice
scheme. Moreover, its most recent order (dated 12 May 2013) appears to focus on shipment of
glutinous rice from only one company in Thailand – based in Samut Sakorn province – and not on all
shipments of Thai rice, contrary to what the anti-government critics have claimed.
Mr. Walter Braunohler, spokesman of the US Embassy in
Bangkok, told Krungthep Turakit TV news channel that the US authorities have not altered their
treatment of Thai rice in general.
Mr. Braunohler explained that the FDA alert was first
established in 1998 and has been updated regularly ever since. He said the import alert has nothing
to do with Thai rice pledging program.
He also denied reports that the US authorities are
opposed to Thai government′s rice scheme, saying that it is the Thai people who have the right to
choose which policy works for their country.