Brazil Lifts Ban on Modified Seeds?
*Brazil Lifts Ban on Modified Seeds
*Brazil to submit GM crops bill to Congress this week - report
*Brief History of the Judical Battle over GMO's
Brazil Lifts Ban on Modified Seeds
By ALAN CLENDENNING, AP Business Writer
August 12, 2003, 9:38 PM EDT
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A federal judge Tuesday lifted a ban preventing U.S. agricultural giant Monsanto Co. from selling genetically modified soybean seeds in Brazil.
Monsanto welcomed the ruling by Judge Selene Maria de Almeida, but the company's victory could be short-lived. Two other judges who serve on her appeals panel could reverse the decision, effectively putting back in place the ban approved in 2000.
Monsanto wants the seeds legalized to recoup lost profits from widespread illicit use in Brazil of its Roundup Ready soybean seeds.
Brazilian growers use seeds smuggled into Brazil from neighboring countries, then grow more on their own land. The Brazilian government rarely enforces the law, and experts estimate 17 percent of the country's soybean crop are grown from the seeds.
Brazil harvested about 52 million metric tons of soybeans during the 2002-2003 season, making it the second largest producer after the United States.
The judge agreed with Monsanto's position that there are no legal or scientific reasons to ban genetically modified seeds, and that Brazil's robust agricultural industry could suffer if growers are not allowed to use the seeds.
Environmentalists, including Greenpeace, oppose the use of genetically modified seeds because of suspicions they could harm the environment.
Monsanto in June warned about 250 exporters that buy Brazilian soybeans and 150 importers that the company would soon start monitoring exports of crops grown with the illicit seeds.
The move came as the struggling St. Louis-based company is shifting its business focus from manufacturing herbicides to developing and selling genetically engineered seeds around the world.
It has complained bitterly for years about Brazilian farmers using Monsanto's technology without paying for it. Monsanto has also been lobbying the Brazilian government to legalize genetically engineered crops.
Monsanto shares rose 40 cents Tuesday to close at $21.89 on the New York
Brazil to submit GM crops bill to Congress this week - report
12 Aug 2003
Brazil's Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues has said the government is to submit to Congress this week a draft bill to regulate the growing and sale of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Rodrigues said the bill would be given priority attention, allowing debates and a vote within 45 days, reported Reuters. That way, the government's position on the planting of GM soy should be made clear before the beginning of the summer crop planting season, which begins in late September or early October and continues to December.
Despite a continued ban on the planting and commercial sale of GM crops in Brazil, black market GM soybeans have been widely planted in parts of the country. The government announced earlier this year that it would allow the sale of illegal GM soy until early next year.
Brief History of the Juridical Battle over GMO's
1995-Implementation of the Law of Bio-security and the creation of the National Technical Commission of Bio-security (CTNBio). Use of GMO's must have the authorization of this Commission.
1996-Monsanto begins research with genetically-modified soy in Brazil
1998-CTNBio approves of the use of Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy in the south of the country. The authorization was given without an environmental impact study. The consumer watchdog group Idec obtained a court order barring CTNBio's authorization.
2000-Judge Antonio Prudente extends the court order that prohibited the planting of GMO's. The Union and Monsanto try to appeal the decision, but their appeal was denied.
2002-The Union and Monsanto make a new motion which is still pending vote in the Federal Regional Tribunal. One of the three judges has already indicated she is in favor of the use of GMO's in the country.
A Few Facts about GMO's
-Nearly 99 percent of all cultivated GMO's are restricted to four countries: United States, Canada, Argentina, and China.
-There are already 30 countries which prohibit the cultivation of GMO's.
-The majority of countries require labeling of GMO's on food products if the GMO's make up more than 5 percent of the product.
-Nearly 80 percent of Europeans do not want to consume products with GMO's.
-What is increasing in the world is not the cultivation of GMO's, but the cultivation of organic products. It is estimated that by 2005 nearly one fourth of all agriculture will be organic.
-If the Brazilian government permits the cultivation of GMO's, five transnational companies will completely dominate the corn, soy, wheat and cotton seed markets. This puts at risk the country's sovereignty, relying on the good will of these companies.
-During the Fernando Henrique Cardoso presidency, the government gave a low-interest US$ 250 million loan to Monsanto for the construction of a factory which produces Glifosato. Glifosato is the prime material of the Roundup herbicides, generally sold with Roundup Ready genetically-altered seeds. The former president therefore helped to lay the groundwork for the production of genetically-altered seeds.
-If the government had used the aforesaid money to construct domestic water wells in the semi- arid Northeast, the problem of potable water would have been solved for one million families.