EXTRACT: The state government of Parana, where the farm is located, said in a statement that seven security guards were taken into custody and face accusations of homicide and gang formation.
2 Dead in Brazil Clash at Biotech Farm
By ALAN CLENDENNING
Associated Press, 22 October 2007
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Activists trying to invade a Swiss-owned biotech seed farm clashed with guards and at least two people were shot dead, authorities and the company said Monday.
One activist opposed to the farm's work with genetically modified seeds died and a security guard was also killed in the clash Sunday at the 304-acre farm owned by Syngenta AG (nyse: SYT - news - people ).
Syngenta spokesman Medard Schoenmaeckers said the invasion led to 'a quite dramatic and violent confrontation where we understand that indeed there were some deadly injuries.'
The state government of Parana, where the farm is located, said in a statement that seven security guards were taken into custody and face accusations of homicide and gang formation.
Four activists and four security guards were injured by the gunfire, according to Agencia Brasil, the country's official news agency.
Brazil's Landless Workers Movement, a close ally of Via Campesina, said the invaders shot off fireworks in retaking the farm and that a bus arrived later with gunmen who opened fire.
Authorities did not immediately comment on that report, but Schoenmaeckers said the Syngenta's contract with a security company stated that the guards would be unarmed.
Three hundred Via Campesina activists first invaded the farm in March 2006, breaking down the gates and setting up tents to publicize their claim that research there into genetically modified soy and corn is illegal.
Syngenta won a court order in July to expel them. The company, Schoenmaeckers said, 'never did anything wrong or illegal in Brazil.'
Parana's state government has also tried to confiscate the farm, saying Syngenta's research is illegal and that the property should be transformed into an educational center for environment-friendly agriculture.
Brazil allows research into genetically modified seeds and the use of the seeds for some crops, but their use is opposed by groups like Via Campesina and some government officials, particularly those in Parana, which borders Argentina and Paraguay.
The state government there recently banned the use of genetically modified corn seeds by farmers.
Syngenta is one of Brazil's top agrochemical retailers, and a leading researcher into genetically modified crops.