GM coconut oil for the global markets

[img_assist|nid=171|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=40]Scientists on the Philippines work on a GM coconut but their aim is not one to improve local food production. It is to compete with (GM) canola oil on the world market. There couldn’t be a better example for a GMO pure developed as cash crop in a global commodity market of interchangeable products.

According to newspaper reports, scientists at the University of the Philippines-Los are trying to develop a coconut with higher lauric acid contents. The aim is not so much to improve the quality of coconut oil as such, but to provide a vegetable oil wit lauric acid contents as high as that of canola to maintain the Philippine’s leading share in the world’s vegetable oil market.

Lauric acids are found in a number of natural fats, especially coconut and palm kernel. They are used for food products as well as in the pharmaceutical industry. According to Dr. Rita Laude, one of the scientists working on the project: "The Philippines is meeting 65 per cent of the world's need for vegetable oil. (But) the development of canola with 60 per cent lauric acid content makes it difficult for us to compete in the market, unless we're able to modify it through genetic engineering,"

Coconut oil is Philippines’ single biggest farm export with foreign exchange earnings of some $500 million yearly. For years we were told that GM crops would be necessary to help against hunger and starvation in the world, then we are told that GM crops would reduce the use of agrochemicals. Critics were considered cynics. But here we have a GM crop that is purely developed to maintain a countries position in a world market of interchangeable commodities; in a market where the competing product is already a GM crop. Have we now reached an ‘arms race’ where GM crops become more and more just plant containers for commodities? Will GM sugar beet and GM sugar cane the next to compete with GM maize on the sugar syrup market?