Recently we've focused particularly on New Zealand's wrecking role at the Biosafety Protocol (MOP-2) negotiations in Montreal, but this interview with Clive James, head of the biotech industry backed lobby group ISAAA, puts the attention back on NZ's partner in crime - Brazil.

In this interview with Ashok B. Sharma, the agricultural correspondent of India's Financial Express, ISAAA's Clive James is full of praise for Brazil's president Lula. Thanks to Lula, James says, Brazil now provides the model for India's future.

James himself notes that in his election campaign, before becoming president, Lula spoke against the introduction of GM crops (in fact, Lula said it would be total insanity!), but after becoming president he completely reversed his position. For James, this clear betrayal of people's trust provides a role model - "a lesson to be learnt by those who are presently opposing [the] introduction of GM crops."

That national betrayal is now beginning to have global consequences. Breazil has already derailed negotiations at MOP-2, and as Ashok Sharma notes, "Brazil is slated to host MOP-3 at Curitiba, nine months later and also to take up the leadership of the like-minded megadiverse countries (LMMCs) from India [the current chairman]." As Sharma says, "Brazil's future roles can easily be predicted in this context."

For the developing world it is little short of a disaster to have Brazil under Lula in such a key leadership role. As Sharma noted in an earlier article, heading the group of like minded megadiverse countries (LMMCs) brings the massive responsibility of "ensuring protection to 70% of the world's biodiversity from genetic pollution... A representative from Ethiopia has rightly questioned how the developing countries can depend upon the future role Brazil is slated to play as chair of MOP/3 and LMMCs, considering the present instances of its dithering on formulation of rules binding movements of LMOs."

(Brazil, New Zealand block LMOs proposal)

The funders of ISAAA have included Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta, and Pioneer Hi-Bred. ISAAA's multi-million dollar budget is matched by high-profile board members, past and present, such as: Monsanto's Robert Fraley, Wally Beversdorf of Syngenta, and Gabrielle Persley, Executive Director of AusBiotech Alliance and advisor to the World Bank. In a report on ISAAA's activities in Asia, GRAIN concluded that its role was one of "promoting corporate profit in the name of the poor."

"India should opt for GM crop development to boost agri growth"
Financial Express, posted online Monday, June 27, 2005

NEW DELHI, JUNE 26: India will stand to lose if it does not follow Brazil in encouraging development and cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops, said Dr Clive James, the chair of International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Dr James indirectly hinted that as Brazil and India are both leading partners in G-20 negotiating bloc on farm issues under WTO, the latter should follow the former in boosting agricultural prospects.

Speaking to FE, Dr James said: "Brazil has lot of potential for boosting its agriculture. It has rightly opted for development and cultivation of GM crops. It is the world leader in soybeans and has 25 million hectare under cultivation of GM roundup ready soybeans. This area is slated to increase to 35 million hectare."

He said that Brazil has also approved Bt cotton in 2005.

It has the largest area under rice cultivation outside Asia and has third largest area under corn cultivation after US and China. "If Brazil opts for transgenic rice and corn, it can surpass many developing countries in agriculture," he said.

Dr James said that Brazil generates revenues through exports of transgenic soybeans to Europe and China in a big way. Public sector research in Brazil has developed transgenic papaya and beans, which are in the final stages of approval.

His analysis of Brazil clearly indicates as to why this country blocked the birth of regime for regulating transbounday movements, handling and packaging of living modified organisations (LMOs) at COP/MOP-2 in Montreal. Brazil is slated to host MOP-3 at Curitiba, nine months later and also take up the leadership of like-minded megadiverse countries (LMMCs) from India. Brazil's future roles can easily be predicted in this context.

Dr James praised President Lula's leadership for introducing two presidential decrees for GM soybeans cultivation and Ominibus Bill for in March 2005 endorsing the approval of GM soybeans and approving Bt cotton cultivation.

He said that Mr Lula before becoming the president was a different person. He openly opposed the introduction of GM crops in his poll campaign. But after becoming the president he realised the importance of GM crops. He said that this is a lesson to be learnt by those who are presently opposing introduction of GM crops.

Regarding recent developments in the EU, Dr James said: "If the Union retains more powers, then the process of approval of GM crops will be faster. If the national governments retains more powers, then the process of approval of GM crops will be slower as the civil society organisations will be unnecessarily pressuring their national governments not to go for such approvals." He said that European countries are now realising the benefits of GM crops.

Portugal has begun cultivating Bt corn after a gap of four years. Portugal realised that neighbouring Spain reaped huge benefits out of Bt corn, he said.