Kasetsart University scientists call off test of 10-year-old rice

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2024

Fearing politicisation, Kasetsart scientists back off from test of 10-year-old rice from pledging scheme

Kasetsart University scientists announced Sunday that they would call off their laboratory test of samples of rice from the government’s 10-year-old stocks for fear that the issue would become politicised.

Weerachai Phutdhawong, a lecturer in Kasetsart’s Faculty of Organic Chemistry, said the controversy over the 10-year-old rice was escalating into a political issue.

“My laboratory team was advised by senior persons from several sides [to cancel the test],” Weerachai said in a Facebook post.

“My team also did not want to see the political issue escalate, so we would like to call off the test of this bag of sampled rice.”

Kasetsart University scientists call off test of 10-year-old rice

After Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai led reporters and representatives of rice traders and exporters to visit two warehouses in Surin storing the rice, a reporter took a bag of the rice to send to Weerachai for a lab test.

Weerachai earlier announced that a preliminary check of the 10-year-old stocks from the rice-pledging scheme of the Yingluck Shinawatra government was contaminated with aflatoxin but he would need to further check the rice for dangerous contaminations.

Phumtham insisted during the trip to the warehouses that the rice was still edible and he would sell it in an auction next month. But he was accused by the government’s critics of an attempt to whitewash the losses from the rice-pledging scheme.

Kasetsart University scientists call off test of 10-year-old rice

Weerachai said the cancellation of his team’s lab test had nothing to do with ongoing tests by the Thai Central Lab and the Department of Medical Sciences, whose results are expected on Monday.