|Chronologically listed items on this page in descending order:
Soy Boom Highlights Biotech Advances, but Encounters Resistance - Mario Osava - 29/3/05 (IPS)
Brazil signs biotech safety law - St. Louis Business Journal24/3/05
Brazilian ministry protests approval of GM cotton - Luisa Massarani - 24 March 2005
Brazil labels GM food - Luisa Massarani - 16th April 2004
BRAZILIAN STATE BANS GMOS
Solidarity with Brazil - The Campaign for a GM-Free Brazil
GM Soya Illegal, but Government Approved - IPS - 26/9/03
BRAZIL GROUP STAGES PROTEST OVER GM SOY DECREE September 23, 2003 - Reuters
Brazil court overturns GM soy ruling - just-food.com - 09 Sep 2003
BRAZIL GMO FREE UPDATE
Brazilian MST Activists Invade Farm Owned by Monsanto - 4/6/03
Brazil Judge Bans Bayer CropScience's Transgenic Corn - Kenneth Rapoza - Dow Jones Newswires, 19 June 2007
SAO PAULO (Dow Jones) - A federal judge banned the use of Bayer CropScience Ltd.'s (506285.BY) transgenic corn just a month after federal biosafety agents approved the product for retail sale, business daily Valor Economico reported Tuesday. Federal judge Pepita Durski Mazini of the environmental law department in the court's Parana capital city office in Curitiba also blocked the official biosafety agency, CTNBio, from approving transgenic corn in its meeting scheduled for this week. Monsanto Co. (MON) and Syngenta AG (SYT) transgenic corn was up for review for possible commercial approval this week. Mazini was unavailable for comment.
Parana's governor, Roberto Requiao, who opposes transgenic crops, was also unreachable by phone early Tuesday. Requiao governs Brazil's No. 1 corn producing state. Corn is Brazil's No. 2 crop behind soybeans, and its popularity with farmers has grown, with corn prices and corn exports on the upswing. Bayer's LibertyLink corn was approved by CTNBio on May 16, but small-producer lobbies have convinced federal courts that the transgenic corn would be hazardous to native Parana corn.
CTNBio approves GM corn by force - Source: AS-PTA Number 345 - May, 2007 - [translation for GM Watch by Ralph Miller]
Last Wednesday (05/16) the CNTBio approved the commercial release of Bayer's GMO corn, by 17 votes to 5. But without recent changes the government made to the law, the approval would not have been possible as the number of necessary votes for an approval would have been 18. Now a simple majority of 14 out of 27 is enough. Right at the start of the meeting, the Commission's president made clear what the the day's objective was: "I may be subject to a penalty if I don't put to the vote" the commercial release of the corn. There was an evident nee to give the biotech market concrete answers. Members of the Commission questioned the lack of data regarding the corn's environmental impact, the absence of internal norms to evaluate the requests for commercial release, and the fact that CNTBio ignored the contributions made during the public consultation when the release of the GM corn was debated. The decision had already been made.
CTNBio also circumvented the rules required by the Biosafety Edict by not appointing someone to be in charge of analyzing the proposition and making a report to the Assembly who should have submitted an overall view together with the votes of the commissions for health and the environment. The representatives of the multinationals and the farmers present were keeping an eye on things. All the scientific arguments brought up by CTNBio members showing the risks and the issues regarding GM corn that had not been studied, were solemnly disregarded by the Commission's pro-biotechnology majority.
When questioned about the problem of approving the corn without previously establishing a plan on how to monitor what happened post-commercialization or rules for coexistence between GM and non-GM crops, the Commission's president immediately said there was no point in creating these norms, as nothing had been released. First one has to release the GM crop. Besides, the president Walter Colli continued, monitoring post-commercialization would only be useful for finding "eventual problems [with GMOs] that he couldn't see" might exist. This sentence, perfectly captures what CNTBio is: a Commission whose legal remit is to evaluate the risks and impacts of GMOs, but which has a majority of members, starting with its president, who do not believe any such problems exist. In view of all the irregularities committed by CNTBio, the Federal Public Prosecutor has already stated it will take the case to Law, in order to appeal the decision. CNTBio behaves with such a lack of propiety that the day after it approved the release of Bayer's Liberty Link corn, its members held a meeting to take steps to create new rules for evaluating applications for the commercial release of GMOs.
It was interesting to observe the same people who the day before had voted in favour of approving the release of the GM corn, afterwards insisting on the necessity of prior studies before a GMO could be released. If these rules that are being created had been in effect the day before, Bayer's GM corn could not have been approved. At CNTBio's next meeting in June, these rules for commercial release will not have been completed and everything indicates that it will be Monsanto's turn to be rewarded by the government through CNTBio's "technical" decisions (approving Monsanto's Bt MON 810). The worst of it is that probably the same thing will happen to other requests for commercial release that are on the Commission's agenda. This way the Commission makes it seem like it's trying to achieve strictness in its decision making, while approving requests without any regard to such rules.
Another high point of the meeting was the letter of resignation submitted to the Commission by the representative of civil society, the environmental specialist Dr. Lia Giraldo. She drew attention to the Commission's irregularities, such as the lack of conflict of interest declarations by several of the Commission's members, and declared that many of the members had already made their minds up on how to vote [before the Commission's deliberations] and considered biosafety questions to be merely stumbling blocks to the advance of biotechnology. In her view, the Commission "is incapable of carrying out the duties the law requires."
Official bodies such as IBAMA (Brazilian Environment Institute) and Anvisa (National Agency for Sanitary Vigilance) may submit an appeal against CNTBio's decision, and the National Biosafety Commission may assemble the eleven ministers that compose it to decide on the social and economical aspects of the release and on the eventual technical disagreements between the CNTBio and IBAMA and Anvisa, as well as the relevant body of the Ministry of Agriculture.
In the meantime, the planting of any GM corn continues to be forbidden in the country. Once released, the contamination of non-GM varieties will be overwhelming.
Greetings from Brazil!
Update from the GM-Free Brazil Campaign - Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, May 03, 2007
We finally have good news from Brazil! For the first time in the history of the CTNBio (the National Technical Biosafety Commission) its regular meeting has been opened to outside observers. The most important direct result was that the commercial release of GM maize, on the agenda for immediate approval, has been postponed indefinitely. For eleven years, the Commission's meetings were always held behind closed doors, although civil society organizations were able to access the content of the decisions and debates held within the Commission in minutes published some months after each meeting. The struggle for greater transparency and participation runs counter to the government's priorities. President Lula simply wants Brazil's economy to grow, and has often declared that environmental issues are a hindrance to his plans. Having been convinced that GMOs are good for the country's economy, for example, he signed new rules into law last month to speed up GMO authorizations.
Also in March, after a public hearing imposed by federal court order was held, the commercial release of Bayer's gluphosinate-ammonium tolerant GM maize was expected to be approved at CTNBio's next meeting. But Greenpeace representatives walked into the CTNBio meeting room and requested observer status, without the right to speak. Rather than back down, the Commission's president simply threw up his hands and canceled the March meeting. A month of confusion ensued in the wake of that decision. First, CTNBio president Colli threatened to suspend the meeting again if "outsiders" insisted on attending. Meanwhile, several more civil society organizations and independent scientists also formally requested authorization to be allowed in.
Groups of professors from two major Brazilian universities published letters criticizing the Commission, its procedures and the way it deals with science, as well as demanding more transparency and public participation. A court decision in response to a suit filed by a Regional Federal Prosecutor in Brasilia was issued early the first day of the April meeting, and forced the CTNBio's doors open to the public. Although the people authorized to enter the room did not have the right to speak, the powerful effect of the Commission having "witnesses" to its debates and decisions was amazing. The Commission always portrays itself as a "technical" body and argues that "ignorant" people should not interfere in such complex matters as GMOs, on which they have nothing to contribute.
Indeed, closing the CTNBio's doors is the only way that the federal government had maintained the appearance of a "science-based" commission. Those who witnessed this most recent meeting watched even its own internal rules being ignored and broken by its members. Field trials are almost automatically authorized, "following a historical pattern," as declared one of the members. When the representative of the Agrarian Development Ministry proposed that Syngenta be required to provide more data, to comply with the CTNBio's internal rules before being granted authorization for a field trial, the matter was put to a vote and 16 members voted for immediate authorization (and only 6 for the delay).
Just like at the GM maize public hearing held in February, once again the best scientific argument mustered by pro-GM members of the CTNBio is the same one used by biotech companies: "GMOs have been planted for over ten years in many countries and no negative impact has been recorded so far." Some members, however, do go straight to the point, explaining that "my project will be affected" if the CTNBio starts to demand more risk analyses. Even so, the awareness caused by the presence of civil society was enough to have the commercial release of Bayer's GM maize taken off the agenda. CTNBio members were certainly ashamed to decide "in public" an authorization so full of both technical fragilities and administrative irregularities. CTNBio president Walter Colli and the Science & Technology minister himself have indeed promised to fight hard to close the CTNBio's doors again.
Colli actually changed his earlier stance and declared last week that the commercial release of GM maize "is not a priority for the Commission at this time" and may not even be put on the next meeting's agenda in May. He seems to be following orders to wait until the Commission's doors are closed so that they can "be alone" to decide the matter "scientifically". If this happens, Brazilian democracy will be the biggest loser. For the GMO promoters who always say that opposition to GMOs is merely ideological, it is important that the CTNBio's decisions be taken in secret, to keep their myths alive. The veil over supposedly science-based decisions also helps keep the real economical interests behind them in the shadows.
GM-FREE BRAZIL - Published by AS-PTA Assessoria e Serviços a Projetos em Agricultura Alternativa. The GM-Free Brazil Campaign is a collective of Brazilian NGOs, social movements and individuals.
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Glyphosate-resistant weed problems in Brazil - Globo Rural TV, 01.14.2007 - (Globo Rural is a weekly Sunday TV program in Brazil about agriculture)
Transcription of the TV program is by the anti-GM campaign group AS-PTA - POR UM BRASIL LIVRE DE TRANSGENICOS. English translation by Ralph Miller
Soya planters in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, are facing a problem: some weeds have become resistant to the glyphosate, the active principle most used in handling plantations.
The farmer, Guido Schneider, since 2002, plants soya in the Vacaria District in the State's mountain region. He had chosen this technology, he says, as it made handling easier. Mr. Schneider uses only one active principle for weed control: the glyphosate. It kills many plants, except GM soya, as the GM seed contains a gene that provides glyphosate resistance. However, last December, when preparing the soil for sowing, Mr. Schneider met a problem. After the first treatment with the herbicide, he noticed that some weeds survived, in this case the buva (Baccharis erigeroides), a species native in RioGrande do Sul. "We had problems with one and a half liters of glyphosate per hectare." He told us, "We noticed some patches in the field; we reapplied but even so there was no control. Then we had to change to another product." At that time Globo Rural invited two researchers to visit Mr. Schneider's farm, the agronomists Leandro Vargas, from Embrapa (Brazilian Authority for Agricultural Research) and Mauro Rizzardi from the Passo Fundo University. Both verified, in the field, what was already known through research: some weeds were glyphosate resistant.
Although the major impact of the discovery is in the GM soy plantations, the problem first appeared in an orchard, also in Vacaria, in an apple exporting enterprise, with 1.5 million apple trees planted, where agronomist Cesar Orlandi noticed resistance for the first time. He told us that the company, for decades, uses glyphosate to kill weeds, mainly azevem (Lolium multiflorum), another grass native in Rio Grande do Sul. "In 2003, we began searching for information and help from EMBRAPA and research work was started in the area. It was discovered that azevem was, in fact, glyphosate resistant."
The material was taken to the Passo Fundo EMBRAP for analysis. In the laboratory several weeds were tested. The purpose was to establish if they were really resistant. Dr. Leandro explained the procedure: "Upon one of the plants the recommended dosage of glyphosate was twice applied. Onto another it was applied four times and onto a third eight times. Even when receiving the recommended dosage of glyphosate eight times the last plant survived and is going to produce seeds. On the on the hand, non resistant plants died with a smaller dosage of the herbicide, or with the recommend one. Resistance is natural; it will occur every time one excessively applies a product. This is what is happening with glyphosate, because it is being applied repeatedly over the same area onto the same plants. These possess a large number of genes, of which some are capable of giving herbicide resistance. There is no gene tranfer, the plant itself already has these genes ? they are simply expressed due to the repeated use of a herbicide."
According to EMBRAPA there are, nowadays about 10 different kinds of weeds in all the world, three of which are in Brazil, that don't die when submitted to glyphosate. The one that gives most problems is azevem, because this grass is cultivated in Rio Grande do Sul and sold to the soya farmers as mulch where the soya is going to be planted. The ground is not completely cleared, some of the grass is left to preserve the soil. "The spreading of azevem occurs in two ways: one is through the windblown pollen that spreads over the whole area. The other that we have detected is through the seed business. The growers who produce azevem seeds sell these to other producers, who in turn end up, by unknowingly, introducing resistant azevem into their areas." Explained Leandro Vargas
Nearly a month later we again visited Mr. Schneider's farm and found the plantation well developed. The weeds were controlled with another product used with conventional soya, in addition to glyphosate. As a result costs were considerably higher than expected. We used a product which gave an additional cost of R$ 40,00 ( about US$ 19,00), per hectare." "The farmer will have to make a cost/benefit analysis. The GM soya we have been planting up to now had a lower cost than this plantation with GM soya and herbicide resistant weeds. He will have to carefully weigh the cost of royalties and the cost of new herbicides and make the decision whether it is worthwhile, economically to continue planting GM soya, or take up, for a year or two, the use of conventional soya," pondered Passo Fundo University's agronomist Mauro Rizzardi. [Ralph Miller comment: "I don't see how this can be done considering the amount of GM seed remaining in the field after harvesting."]
Monsanto sent us a note on the subject. The company states that the resistance of weeds to glyphosate, or any other herbicide is a natural phenomenon. Monsanto also says that among herbicides, glyphosate is the active principle having the smallest number of herbicide resistant plants.
Syngenta Property In Brazil Said Likely To Be Expropriated - Kenneth Rapoza - Dow Jones, December 1 2006
A 123-hectare experimental farm owned by Syngenta Seeds (SYT) is in the crosshairs of the Parana state government and likely to be expropriated for alleged illegal planting of genetically modified corn and soybeans on the border of Iguacu National Park, a government spokeswoman said Wednesday. Syngenta is one of Brazil's largest researchers of genetically modified organisms. The company sells agrochemicals.
The property is located in western Parana state, two kilometers away from the Igaucu National Park. The park is home to the 2.5 mile-long Iguacu Falls, considered a National Heritage of Mankind by the United Nations. Parana's governor, Roberto Requiao, known for his anti-GMO position in the past by banning exports of GMO soybeans from the Paranagua Port, said Syngenta was breaking a federal law that prohibits GMO plants within 500 meters of public parks. The Syngenta property is closer to the park than that, but was permitted by the federal government's biosafety agency, CTNBio, to run the experiments on site, a CTNBio spokeswoman told Dow Jones Newswires recently. Syngenta said it was studying its legal options at this time.
The property's problems began in March, when some 300 activists from international agrarian reform group, Via Campesina, invaded the property and prohibited Syngenta employees from entering the site. A Parana judge ordered them to leave the property on Nov. 1, and most of them had gone by Nov. 4, Syngenta said. But a week later, Requiao decreed that the state would take possession of the property because of its alleged conflict with environmental laws and GMO. Four days later, Via Campesina invaded the property again, claiming they had to harvest some of the crops they planted for food while they were camped on the property over the past nine months. The property has 12 hectares of GMO soybeans and corn.
On Wednesday, the local Landless Rural Workers Movement, better known as MST, said dozens of individuals were marching toward the Syngenta property. Both Via Campesina and MST regularly invade property to force the government to change its land and farm policies. Both groups are against GMO. The local Estado newswire reported Wednesday that the government was considering turning the site into a research center on ecological-friendly farming. A government spokeswoman said there was no definitive date for the property to change hands at this time.
Brazil: Transgenic soybean seeds increase herbicides - Valor Economico, November 17 2006
The Brazilian environmental institute Ibama reports from 2000 - 2004 the domestic consumption of glyphosates has increased by 95% while the soybeans planted area rose 71%, showing the introduction of genetic modified soybeans Roundup Ready seeds from Monsanto, led to a larger use of agrochemicals.
Rio Grande do Sul, which hosts most of the transgenic soybeans agriculture shows a rate of 162% on glyphosate consumption and 38% in the soybeans planted area. Rio Grande shows what would happen in other states with the uses of genetic modified seeds.
There soybean farmers have increased by 106% the consumption of herbicides from 9,800 to 20,200 m tons (2000 - 2004) of which 19,300 mil tons of glyphosates used in an area of 4.1 mil ha of soybeans plantations. Consequences of the massive use of herbicides are still to be seen, but researchers from Embrapa already noticed the growing resistance of plagues to glyphosates.
Brazil biotech commission: No approval on corn, cotton GMO - By Kenneth Rapoza - Wednesday, October 25, 2006
SAO PAULO - Brazil's biosafety commission, CTNBio, was unable to reach a consensus Wednesday regarding technical studies on transgenic cotton and corn seeds from Bayer CropScience, Monsanto and Syngenta Seeds, a CTNBio spokeswoman said Thursday.
CTNBio meets monthly and is responsible for accepting field tests on genetically modified crops. The group's scientists conduct independent studies and analysis on whether the biotech product is harmful to the environment or human consumption. Final commercial approval depends on political and economic decisions made by a consensus of various government departments.
CTNBio said the commission's scientists responsible for the review of Monsanto and Bayer's transgenic corn and cotton seeds did not appear at the meeting Wednesday and did not submit a final report to the committee. CTNBio said another study was required for Syngenta's BT-11 corn, which is resistant to certain insects. Bayer is asking for permission to sell LibertyLink cotton and Monsanto is asking for permission to sell Roundup Ready cotton in the local market. Farmers and seed companies regularly complain that CTNBio takes too long to pass transgenic field studies and even longer to commercialize seeds currently in the field test phase.
Since 1998, Brazil has permitted only two genetically modified products in the national market, Monsanto's Bollgard cotton and Roundup Ready soybeans. Roundup Ready was permitted in 1998 but quickly suspended following political protests. Roundup Ready soy was allowed by executive order in 2005 and is expected to constitute roughly 50% of the soy planted in the 2006-07 crop.
Copyright © Dow Jones News Service
Via Campesina occupation of Syngenta - Update from Darcy Frigo, Coordinator, Terra de Direitos, Curitiba, Brazil
Thank you to everyone who made the effort to mail a letter in support of the Via Campesina's occupation of Syngenta Seeds' experimental test site in Santa Teresa do Oeste, Paran, Brazil, to Governor Roberto Requiao. The Via Campesina, an international movement of peasant social movements, and Terra de Direitos, a Brazilian human rights NGO, appreciate your efforts.
Syngenta is one the largest multinational agribusiness corporations in the world, and in 2005, realized profits of US$ 8.1 billion. Syngenta has a long history of human rights abuses, environmental contamination and illegal activities, including the largest case of genetic contamination in history (for an in-depth report on Syngenta's history and crimes, please see the attached document written by Terra de Direitos).
The occupation occurred on the 14th of March, 2006, after the Via Campesina learned that Syngenta had illegally planted genetically modified (GMO) soy at the site, situated within a protected boundary zone of the IguaÁu Falls National Park, which was declared the Patrimony of Humanity by the United Nations in 1986. This occupation is a non-violent method for Brazil's rural poor and disenfranchised to demand that Brazil's natural resources be used to produce food and livelihoods for Brazilians - not to enrich the coffers of Syngenta's shareholders.
Under Brazilian law, in Article 186 of Brazil's constitution, land in Brazil must fulfill a social function. The Via Campesina argues that the land at Syngenta's experimental site was not fulfilling its social function because profits generated at the site do not go to the Brazilian people; they go to shareholders in the Global North. Additionally, Syngenta's illegal planting of GMO soy endangered Brazil's biodiversity, which can be viewed as a human rights abuse because it threatens traditional food sources and livelihoods. The Via Campesina occupied the land to demand that Governor Requiao expropriate the land and put it to a use that will fulfill its social function through the creation of a school for agroecology for small, rural farmers.
Thanks to your letters to Governor Requiao, the Via Campesina occupants remain at the site, protecting Brazil's biodiversity, demanding that their rights be respected - and costing Syngenta lots of money.
Syngenta is threatening to divest from the country, and continues to refuse to pay the $500,000 that the federal environmental agency has fined the corporation. Syngenta is also stepping up the pressure on Requiao to expel the occupants. In an attempt to criminalize the Via Campesina, this week Syngenta's lawyers in Brazil (the same lawyers that represent Monsanto) filed a police inquiry against six Via Campesina members, including the state leader of the Movement of the Landless Rural Workers (MST). Syngenta is also trying to compel a state judge on the side of agribusiness to fine Requiao US$10 million for each day that the
occupation continues. To his credit, Requiao has so far not expelled the occupants.
We are stepping up the pressure on Syngenta by asking you please send the... letter [below] to Pedro Rugeroni, the head of Syngenta in Brazil, as well as Syngenta's Board Members in Switzerland. This letter (in English) declares support for the Via Campesinaís occupation, demands that Syngenta pay the government's fine and obey federal environmental regulations, and that Syngenta stop criminalizing the Via Campesina and MST. It is important that these individuals understand that people and organizations outside of Brazil are aware of what is going on in the country.
To send the letter:
1. Cut and paste the... letter [below] into a blank email, inserting your name or the name of your organization into the highlighted areas.
2. Cut and paste this email into the 'address' line: Pedro.email@example.com
3. Cut and paste these emails into the 'cc' line:
4. Put Isabella@kenfield.us into the 'bcc' line so that Terra de Direitos can track this effort.
5. Hit send.
In advance, thank you for taking the time and effort to do this! It is very important!
Darcy Frigo, Coordinator
Terra de Direitos
Attention Mr. Rugeroni,
I, (insert name/organization here), write to you to declare that I support the Via Campesina's occupation of Syngenta Seeds in Santa Teresa do Oeste, in the state of Parana. The Via Campesina occupied the site after the federal government confirmed that Syngenta had illegally planted transgenic soy at the site.
Mr. Rugeroni, I am aware that Syngenta broke Brazilian federal environmental law by planting transgenic soy within the boundary area of the Iguaçu Falls National Park. Your corporation has endangered Brazilian biodiversity, and threatened the livelihoods of the rural poor. For this, I demand that you immediately pay the Brazilian Institute for the Environment (IBAMA) the fine that it has demanded. I also demand that Syngenta obey Brazil's federal environmental laws in the future.
I also demand that Syngenta immediately cease the criminalization of the Via Campesina and Movement of the Landless Rural Workers (MST) by retracting the criminal investigation you instigated this week. Under Article 184 in the Brazilian constitution, land in Brazil must serve its social function, and the land at Syngenta's experimental test site was not serving its social function. Thus, I believe the occupation of Syngenta is legal and just.
Thank you for your attention.
(insert name/organization here)
Brazilian illegal transgenic cotton fields will be destroyed - Brazil, Posted: Jun 21, 2006 - http://www.monsantowatch.org
The Brazilian National Biosafety Commission (CNTBio) decided to destroyed the illegal transgenic cotton plantations. Yesterday, the Brazilian National Biosafety Commission (CNTBio), decided to recommend the chemical and mechanical destruction of the illegal transgenic cotton plantations in addition to a field survey for a period of six months of the fields where the crop will be destroyed. The Ministry of Agriculture (MA) had informed the National Biosafety Commission that it had prohibited the cultivation of sixteen thousand hectares of plantations sowed with smuggled GE cotton seeds in more more than twenty exploitations in the States of Mato Grosso, Goias, Bahia, Mato Grosso do Sul and Minas Gerais. The MA estimates that this year total surface of "authorized" GE cotton will be of two hundred thousand hectares.
For the moment, the only transgenic cotton variety authorized by the CNTBio is the Bollgard from the multinational Monsanto which is resistant to the insects. However, since the month of May of this year, the services of the MA have detected, others Bollgard varieties as well as Round Ready ones, also produced by the Amercian multinational. The destruction of the illegal cotton fields will be carried out by application of a drying chemical and gridding of all the crops found on the fields that will then be incorporated in the organic material of the soil.
More information. Etienne Vernet. firstname.lastname@example.org
Brazil GMO crackdown seen leading to $30m in cotton losses - DJCS, June 22, 2006
SAO PAULO - The discovery of illegal Monsanto (MON) transgenic cotton plants on roughly 18,000 hectares of Brazilian cotton farms caused a quarantine of those fields by federal authorities this week and will likely amount to $30 million in losses, according to Brazil's Cotton Producers Association, or Abrapa. "Farmers are more than a bit worried. Some say that they didn't know the plants were GMO," said Abrapa President Joao Carlos Jacobsen about the prohibited Roundup Ready Fiex Cotton, a genetically modified cotton seed that helps control the spread of weeds.
Abrapa estimates that 6,400 metric tons of cotton will be destroyed as a result. Brazil's government only allows for the planting of Monsanto's Bollgard cotton, another transgenic variety, in a few experimental fields. Bollgard cotton makes the plant more resistant to the boll weevil, one of the most damaging pests to cotton. Twenty properties throughout Brazil's top cotton-producing states were discovered this month to be using transgenic cotton. Government authorities are currently in Goias, the nations No. 3 producer.
The National Biosecurity Commission, or CTNBi0, said farmers would not be permitted to plant cotton on those fields in the 2006-07 crop. That doesn't mean farmers will plant less cotton, however. Most cotton farmers also plant soy and raise cattle, so they could move crops to other fields without reducing output.
Requests for permission to use GMO crops are currently being stalled at CTNBi0 under various political bottlenecks. CTNBi0 currently has a backlog of roughly 80 requests for experimental field tests for GMO corn, soy, rice and cotton, among other things.
Indian soymeal exports jump on strong demand - By Hari Ramachandran - REUTERS, June 19, 2006
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's soymeal exports are expected to nearly double to 3.7 million tonnes in the year ending September 2006 on strong demand from Vietnam and Japan and competitive prices, a top trade official said on Monday. "Vietnam, Japan, China, South Korea and Indonesia were among the strong buyers of Indian meal during the year," [Rajesh Agrawal, chairman of the Soybean Processors' Association of India] told Reuters over telephone from Indore. "Everywhere Indian meal was better accepted this year because it is non-genetically modified and of good quality," Agrawal said.
Brazil's key farming state stands firm against GM - Ochieng' Ogodo - 22 March 2006 - http://www.panos.org.uk/global/cbd2006_summit4.asp
Ochieng' Ogodo talks to the governor of Parana in southern Brazil, who has vowed to keep his state GM-free, in defiance of the federal government's positive stance towards GM farming.
[Curitiba, Brazil - PANOS] The state of Parana in southern Brazil is renowned for its rich biodiversity and for being the largest grain producer in the country, with harvests reaching more than 25 million tonnes per year, nearly 10 million tonnes of which are soybeans. But beneath its pastoral beauty lies a tense relationship between the state government and Brazil's federal government over genetically modified (GM) products. Parana stands out as a stronghold of anti-GM farming, while the federal government has no such qualms.
The governor of the state, Roberto Requiao, hasn’t minced his words about his dislike for GMOs at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity taking place in Curitiba, the capital of Parana. In an interview with Panos, he said that he will keep fighting to keep the state free of GM crops and products. And he is ready to stick his neck out on this. "The relationship between me and the federal government, which has decided to allow transgenic products, is tense but I am committed to keeping this state free of GM products," he said. But this, he knows will be an uphill task. "We have not declared this state GM-free but we are going to introduce legislation making labelling [of GM food] compulsory," he said.
Requiao has consistently taken a stronger line than the Brazilian government on GM crops, including at last week’s biosafety meeting which he hosted. Parana state, says Requiao, imports virtually no grain because it is the biggest producer in the country. But the risk of contamination, he said, is real as GM products may come across the state’s borders. "That is why we are demanding labelling and on Wednesday [22 March] I will sign this into law in our state," he said.
In a bid to discourage people from practising GM farming, the state government has banned the export of GM grain through the busy port of Paranagua in Parana, the largest public grain port in the world. The state government has set up inspection centres along its borders with other Brazilian provinces to test soybeans for GM traces. According to Requião there is also a growing rift within the federal government over GM products, with the environment minister Marina Silva taking a stand similar to his. "Parana wants to keep its agricultural products free of transgenics to preserve its economic sovereignty and to continue with its foothold in the non-GMO market. Also [we want] to protect the environment and take a precautionary measure against the risks they pose to human beings," he said.
Brazil peasants occupy Swiss farm - Peasants accuse the Swiss firm of sowing GM seeds - By Tom Gibb - BBC correspondent in Sao Paulo
[photo caption: Members of Brazil's Landless Movement clash with police during a rally. - http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41446000/jpg/_41446126_clash_afp203bo.jpg]
Several hundred peasant activists have occupied a research farm in southern Brazil owned by a Swiss multinational biotechnology company. The Landless Movement says the move is part of a new strategy to target multinational agribusiness, which it accuses of pushing farmers off land. It also says such companies are destroying the environment. The Landless Movement has also occupied dozens of farms and cattle ranches to press for land reform.
At least 300 peasants from the Landless Movement took over the experimental farm belonging to the Swiss company Syngenta, accusing it of sowing genetically modified seeds close to a nature reserve. The company denies breaking environmental rules. The Landless Movement has long occupied farms to demand land reform from the government, which is the aim of most of the dozens of farm takeovers over the last week. But leaders of the Landless Movement say they will now also target big agricultural companies in alliance with the international peasant movement, Via Campesina.
It is the second such protest in less than a week. Last week about 1,000 women from the movement took over a tree nursery in southern Brazil, destroying around one million eucalyptus seedlings. Brazilian government officials - who have been supportive of the Landless Movement in the past - strongly criticised the destruction. The country's economic growth is dependent on agricultural exports, many of them channelled through multinational companies.
Transgenic corn threatens Brazil's biodiversity - Michèlle Canes - Reporter - Agencia Brasil
Brasilia - The presence of transgenic corn seeds in municipalities in the state of Rio Grande do Sul constitutes a threat to corn that has not been genetically modified, according to the agronomist and Greenpeace activist, Ventura Barbeiro. He affirmed that pollen borne by the wind can end up affecting traditional crops, altering their genetic constitution, too.
"One of the greatest dangers involving corn is its high pollination potential, that is, its capacity for cross-fertilization. If a farmer plants a small area, it can genetically contaminate plantations in a radius extending from 500 meters to 1 kilometer," Ventura said. In an interview with the Agencia Brasil, the agronomist reacted to studies by the Ministry of Agriculture confirming the presence of transgenic corn in some Rio Grande do Sul cities.
The studies were carried out to investigate an accusation made by state deputy, Brother Sergio Gorgen (PT). The lawmaker believes that genetically modified seeds will represent a problem for the region. "The Poultry-Breeders' Association of Rio Grande do Sul is desperate, because, if the presence of transgenic corn in poultry ration is confirmed, the Rio Grande do Sul chicken industry will lose important export markets," he affirmed.
The Greenpeace activist said that the presence of illegal seeds attests the fragility of Brazil's borders and the absence of biosecurity laws. "Illegal cultivation of transgenic corn in Rio Grande do Sul offers clear and objective proof that Brazil lacks a biosecurity policy and that surveillance is extremely weak."
Ventura explained that Greenpeace belongs to a network of organizations that are already mobilizing do to something about the situation in Rio Grande do Sul. For deputy Gorgen, punishment should be meted out not to the farmers, but to those who introduced the seeds. "I don't want the farmer to be punished. I want the smuggler, the salesman, and the multinational to be punished. Monsanto should be banished from the country."
Translation: David Silberstein
BRAZIL: Contraband Transgenic Maize Causes Alarm - Mario Osava* - http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=31557
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 23 (Tierramérica) - Reports of illegal imports of genetically modified maize in southern Brazil, crossing the Argentine border, have caused alarm among officials and experts, who warn that the crop's environmental effects could be worse than those of smuggled soybeans nine years ago. Rio Grande do Sul legislative deputy Frei Sergio Gorgen denounced Agropecuaria Campesato before the judicial authorities for selling genetically modified (GM) maize seed, after verifying an anonymous tip received last month. According to Gorgen, the transgenic maize variety marketed by this small company reportedly came from Argentina and belongs to the agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto. The U.S.-based corporation has been at the centre of Brazil's GM controversies since 1996, when its RoundUp Ready (RR) soybeans were illegally diseminated also throughout Rio Grande do Sul. The prevelance of transgenic soybeans reached more than 80 percent of the area cultivated with soy, according to farmers' estimates, and expanded to other Brazilian states as well. But maize - or corn - is different, because it can affect the environment and farming more extensively than soybeans, Claudio Langone, deputy minister of environment, told Tierramerica. Because it is a "direct pollination" crop, the gene added to the modified variety can spread to and contaminate conventional maize, he said.
"Brasil de Fato", a weekly publication linked to the landless workers' movement (MST, Movimento dos Sem Terra), states that some of the smuggled maize contained the gene GA21, used in Monsanto's RRGA21 variety, resistant to the herbicide glyphosate. However, the transnational corporation said it was not aware of the maize's origins and denounced the sale and cultivation of any illegal seed, "whether conventional or transgenic". "It is irresponsible" to introduce maize into the country that way, given that the transgenics regulation law is still in force, and the expansion of the GM crop could have "tragic" consequences, said Langone, pointing to potentially irreversible environmental impacts and damage to the credibility of Brazilian agriculture, thus threatening its exports to certain markets.
In March - against the protests of environmentalists - the Brazilian Congress passed the Biosecurity Act, which opened the doors to controlled research, development and production of genetically modified organisms. "Maize is for domestic consumption, but it is a key input in the production of pork and poultry, which are important to Brazil's exports," explained Langone. "Furthermore, this illegality violates the rights of the consumer, who would eat transgenics without being informed," he added.
Transgenic organisms are modified in the laboratory by introducing genes from other plant or animal species in order to improve certain characteristics, such as the crop's yield, or resistance to pests, pesticides or climate factors. The biotechnology research that Monsanto conducts in Brazil is authorised by CTNBio, the national biosecurity commission, assured the corporation itself in a public statement. The research includes the maize varieties YieldGard and RR resistant to insects and to glyphosate herbicide, respectively, and not yet authorised for commercial production here.
According to lawmaker Gorgen, who filed the complaint in Rio Grande do Sul, it is now up to the police and the judicial and agricultural authorities to find the smuggler and put an end to the contraband, and to determine the responsibility of Monsanto, which owns the GM seed patent. "Whoever owns it for profit also owns the responsibility of controlling it," Gorgen told Tierramérica. In his opinion, this case will not have the same fate as that of the smuggled soybean seed in the 1990s, which temporary laws accomodated as "fait accompli", and, with certain conditions, let the farming of GM soy continue. "The farmers have already realized what a disappointment the transgenic soy was - an economic failure," because it requires more agro-chemicals, driving up production costs after the first few years, said Gorgen. Furthermore, public opinion has "a different perception", the federation of big farmers said they would not put up with another case of illegal seed, and the meat industry fears losing export markets if its hogs and chicken are fed with GM maize, he said.
For Narciso Barison, head of the Rio Grande do Sul association of seed producers and sellers, APASSUL, the transgenic maize is following the same path as soybeans did, "but won't have the same future." Hybrid maize seed, the most widely planted, is difficult to reproduce; it doesn't multiply like soy, says Barison. The farmers will face a "dramatic fall in productivity" if they use illegal seed, without the quality assured by certified seed producers, he predicted. His own farms suffered losses as a result of the illegal GM soy. But until such losses reach 50 percent of productivity, the "traffickers" will continue to fool the farmers, he lamented. The hucksters will likely go unpunished because "the farmers who suffer losses from illegal seed don't want to admit it."
Meanwhile, Elibio Rech, a researcher at the biotechnology center of the government's agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA, foresees positive developments for transgenics in Brazil, because, he says, the Biosecurity Act will operate better beginning in 2006. Rech does not expect any major environmental impacts from smuggled transgenic maize. The GM crop might contaminate other plants, but there are "methodologies and barriers" to prevent it, and the genes that were added to the seed "do not give it competitive advantages" to provoke environmental harm, he argued.
(*Mario Osava is an IPS correspondent. Originally published Dec. 17 by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backingof the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.)
Illegal GM corn found in Brazil - Luisa Massarani - Source: SciDev.Net, 2 December 2005
[BRASILIA] Genetically modified (GM) corn is being illegally sold in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, according to an accusation by the state deputy Frei Sergio Antonio Gorgen . Frei Sergio, who presented his claim to the Federal Public Ministry on 11 November, received an anonymous tip-off last month that a company in Barao de Cotegipe (north of Rio Grande do Sul) was selling modified corn smuggled from Argentina. In a sample bought from the company, the researchers found a GM corn (GA21) produced by the company Monsanto. Tests showed that more than one quarter (27.5 per cent) of the seeds were genetically modified. The risk of contaminating local varieties of corn with GM strains is greater than with soya, says Frei Sérgio, because pollen can be carried up to nine kilometres away by insects, birds and wind.
Last month, Brazil enacted a law allowing GM crop commercialisation in the country (see Brazil enacts GM and stem cell law after 8-month wait). However, the companies must obtain permission to sell such crops from CTNBio, the national commission for biosafety. "No permission was provided for growing GM corn in Brazil, because in the case of corn it is not excluded that it might contaminate native species," says Jairon Alcir Santos do Nascimento, executive-secretary of CTNBio. "This is a very serious problem, since it shows that there is no suitable bio-vigilance in the border between Brazil and other countries," says Rubem Nodari, manager of genetic resources in the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. He adds that this also raises concern over the possible emergence of plagues and agricultural diseases.
Rio Grande do Sul has been a stage for controversies since 2003 (see Brazil faces dilemma of 'illegal' GM soya), when it was found that about 90 per cent of the soya grown there was genetically modified due to seeds smuggled from Argentina.
Brazil - Monsanto Seeds Smuggled in from Argentina - Latin American News, 24 Nov 2005
24/11 - Farmers in the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul buy corn seeds that have been genetically manipulated and smuggled into Brazil. Trading genetically manipulated corn is illegal in Brazil. However, there are complaints that a company in the town of Barão de Cotegipe is selling these seeds, which has recently been confirmed by newspaper Brasil de Fato. A sample of corn sold in Cotegipe was analyzed in the Alac laboratory in the city of Garibaldi. The results confirmed the presence of 27.5% of the GA21 gene. This gene is used for the production of corn RR GA21, which is produced by US multinational Monsanto which dominates the market in Argentina. Jânio Luciano Campesato is the owner of the company that sells the genetically manipulated corn in Barão de Cotegipe. According to one of his clients who made the accusation without identifying himself, the entrepreneur receives a weekly shipment of the product and does not provide receipts when he sells the seeds. The seeds are sold at 15 reales (about $6.50) per kilo. Conventional corn seeds are priced at between 3 and 4 reales. (PULSAR)
Planting Bollgard cotton is illegal in Brazil - by Etienne Vernet, Polaris Institute, Brazil - Sep 2005
Over the past several months we are witnessing a worldwide marketing campaign celebrating the future planting of GE cotton in Brazil. According to some sources: "Brazil, the world's fifth-largest cotton-grower, will probably become the largest growth market for biotech cotton after the government officially approved the release of genetically modified varieties in March."(1) What these sources do not say is that bollgard's planting for the coming years will be illegal, as were the five percent of Brazil's 1.3 million tonne of last year harvest "that were coming from black market".
It all began last spring when the CNTbio(2), the Biotechnological National Assessment Committee under the authority of the Ministry of Science and Technology, authorized the commercialization of "conventional cotton containing up to 1% of transgenic traits for the 2004/05 harvest." However, according to the prosecutor of the Republic, Ana Paula Mantovani: "the decision was taken without a proper and rigorous technical assessment which could have detected potentials impact to food security, human health and environmental risks." Furthermore she added that: "it lacked the approval of two third of the eighteen members as determined by the Law 8.974/95."(3)
On the 20th of July, the Public Ministry sent recommendations to all the interested parties to inform them that CNTBio's decision should not be implemented. These recommendations were not compulsory, but the CNTBio had 10 days to respond and justify its decision. If the Public Ministry does not find the justifications satisfactory then it will enter into a public challenge against the decision.(4) Similarly to the CNTBio's controversial decision and because it took some time for the new Biosafety Law to enter effectively in force, the activity of the Ministry of Agriculture was paralyzed. Until now, it had not finalized the registration proceedings of the GE variety, which therefore cannot be legally planted in Brazil.(5)
The GE cotton seeds have been imported into Brazil since May 2004 by the MDM, a joint venture between the Brazilian group Maeda(6) and the American Delta & Pine Lands. The company is the only one authorized by Monsanto to commercialize the bollgard seeds in Brazil. For the moment, GE cotton seeds are in quarantine until they can be assessed. After this period, the seeds will be tested during two harvests by the Embrapa to verify whether or not they present environmental risks to other "local" cotton varieties. If after this period, they are approved, the seeds will be commercialized by MDM. The process should take upwards of three years before the GE cotton seeds reach the market.(7) According to Eleuterio da Silva, the Program Director of the Agropastoral's Defense Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture: "the process of analyze of the MDM's Bollgard seeds will take at least three years." The company will not be able to sell the seeds before the variety is registered in the national seed catalogue. Registration can only occur after the ongoing assessment process."
The slowness of the assessment process was not well received by Jorge Maeda, President of Maeda, the main shareholder of MDM. He noted that: "our company made a request to the Ministry of Agriculture to multiply the seeds, six months ago, to be able to commercialized them in October 2005, so that we would have been able to made them available to the cotton producers, for the next harvest 2005/06, but the government did not send us any response."(8) Monsanto confirmed the delay and declared: "we are not going to be able to commercialize varieties adapted to Brazilian conditions for several years." This decision is yet another setback for Monsanto which is already: "studying the best way (to collect royalty) during the 2005/06 crop season."
Based on this information, lawyers(9) are claiming that any importer which attempts to commercialize GE cotton in Brazil could be charged. Cotton producers that plant GE cotton would face similar criminal charges. A coalition of Brazilian NGOs is ready to file court challenges to stop GE cotton from being planted. The next months will show us whether the Agriculture Ministry's will act on its claims. In the meantime, the Brazilian NGOs will continue to apply pressure to make sure it does.
Rio de Janeiro. September 2005, Etienne Vernet(10)
1) The Abrapa and the Aiba alledge that by the harvest 2006/07, 50% to 60 % of the cotton of Brazil will be transgenic.
2) On 17th of March the CNTBio approved the commercial use of the GE cotton, Bollgard of Monsanto
3) Modified by the MP 2.191-9
4) The CNTBio's response was not accepted by the Public Minsitry, which asked for further evaluations to be presented.
5) Correspondance of the Ministry of Agriculture in response to a letter coming from the Agriculture Secretariat of the State of Parana, dated 25th of July.
6) A group considered as the largest cotton producer of the world. <www.bndes.gov.br/conhecimento/setorial/gs1_11.pdf>
7) Valor Economico 27th of July 2005
8) Valor Economico 1st, 2th, 3rd of July 2005
9) Ibid 5.
10) Etienne Vernet is the South American Research Director of the Polaris Institute
BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM POSITION ON BRAZILIAN NON-GM SOYBEAN - Friday 26 August 2005
British Retail Consortium (BRC) members do not currently stock own label brands sourced from Genetically Modified (GM) materials and ingredients. This decision is based solely on customer demand, as the general public remains highly critical of potential health effects from consuming GM products. For this reason, UK retailers are determined to maintain a non-GM stance for products for as long as practically and commercially possible.
GM has failed to convince
Research data from across the UK indicates that customer demand for non-GM remains as strong now as it was in the late nineties when widespread opposition first emerged. A 2003 survey by NOP World revealed the following:
- 78% of people remain unconvinced that GM is safe to eat
- 79% would not knowingly buy food containing GM ingredients
- Even if GM food could be proven safe to eat, 61% of customers would still not consume these products
- 55% were against GM food and crops with 38% yet to be convinced of its benefits
Working with suppliers
In order to help suppliers of commodity crop provide non-GM soya and maize to our market, British retailers and manufacturers have worked together to produce a standard for identity-preserved systems in the supply of non-GM products, based on current best practice. The standards acts as a guide for use at appropriate points along the supply chain, from seed supply to the use of derivative ingredients in the manufacture of final food products.
Retailers are committed to giving their customers informed choice. Retailers support the 0.9% de minimis threshold for the accidental mixing of non-GM material, below which labelling will not be required. Without such a threshold to allow for such low level mixing, manufacturers and retailers would have no incentive to ensure non-GM supply lines as any error would mean presentation. That scenario would have businesses acting defensively, labelling 'containing GM' which is not what most customers want.
Maintaining Brazil’s non-GM supply
It will be enormously difficult to maintain trust in the food chain should Brazil’s supply of non-GM soybean dry up. It is therefore essential that Brazil remains a continued source of non-GM soybean and halts the progression at the current level of 35% GM.
We urge the Brazilian industry to resist further growth of GM planting. This would send a disastrous signal to UK consumers and could seriously damage trust and confidence in the food chain across the board.
Brazil GMO soy sales start slowly; royalties cited - By Roberto Samora - Reuters, July 26, 2005
SAO PAULO - Sales of genetically modified (GMO) soybean seeds for next harvest, which were legalized earlier this year in Brazil, are very slow, industry sources said on Monday. Farmers' financial difficulties and royalties charged by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto Co. are seen as the main reasons for the slowness. "The market isn't moving. GM sales are sluggish and things are generally quiet because farmers don't have cash," said Ivo Carraro, executive director of the Central Cooperative of Agricultural Research (Coodetec, Brazil's biggest producer of GM seeds). Coodetec has sold less than 10 percent of its seeds, compared with 90 percent at the same time last year, he said. Coodetec, one of Monsanto's partners in Brazil, produced around 2.5 million 40-kg bags of GM seeds for next year's harvest.
Following lengthy negotiations, Monsanto reached a deal with seed growers in mid-July to charge 0.88 real per kilo for use of its Roundup Ready (RR) soybean technology. As the market considered the charge to be excessive, Monsanto sought to boost sales by offering farmers credit in proportion to the volume of their GM seed purchases. In addition, seed producers can offer farmers discounts by passing on some of the bonuses they receive from Monsanto for various services. "These benefits could be given to farmers," said Narciso Barison Neto, interim president of the Brazilian Seed Producers Association (Abrasem). Monsanto also made an agreement earlier this year with soy producers from Rio Grande do Sul state under which those using illegal Argentine seed must pay a charge equivalent to 2 percent of 2005/06 soy sales. Coodetec's Carraro said that the situation concerning GM soy sales should become clearer in August and September.
Brazil's biosecurity law faces legal challenge - Meridian Institute, July 7, 2005
Brazil's attorney-general, Claudio Fonteles, has asked the Brazilian Supreme Court to consider whether the country's four-month-old biosafety (or "biosecurity") law is unconstitutional. On June 21, Fonteles challenged a section of the law that gives the Brazilian National Biosafety Committee (CTNBio), rather than federal and local governments, the power to decide whether a genetically modified organism (GMO) is environmentally safe. CTNBio is attached to Brazil's science ministry. Fonteles also argued that a section of the biosafety law that legalizes stem-cell research is unconstitutional, as the constitution protects the right to life. Fonteles is expected to soon leave office, but the article says his successor, Antonio Fernando Souza, will almost certainly continue the legal challenge. Nature noted that the legal challenge puts "Brazil's rosy future as a biotechnology haven" in doubt.
Drought in Brazil Could Dry Up Monsanto's Sales - Media Release - For immediate release - 29th June, 2005
Drought in Brazil has caused a severe 72% drop in soybean yields in the heaviest Round-Up Ready soy using state. The Polaris Institute calls on the company to review its FY06 earnings estimates that include new Brazilian sales that will begin this fall. In particular, what pricing changes should investors expect to address this crisis and how will those changes affect next year's EPS estimates?
Rio Grande do Sul - the biggest adopter of Monsanto technology - has been the hardest hit by the drought. The state is also home to Monsanto's fledgling royalty collection system. Brazil's agricultural department estimates that yields are down 72% in Rio Grande do Sul. Monsanto representative Ricardo Miranda concedes that yield losses are 80% in some areas. Soy exports from Rio Grande do Sul are expected to drop 95%.
The effects of such a severe drought are predictable. In some cases, soy crushers are halving their staff. Cargill is even closing a processing plant for a month for lack of inputs. Farmers have defaulted on one-third of the government loans so far this year.
Farmers are taking notice. The president of the Rio Grande do Sul seed association cites 25% higher crop losses in GE soy crops as compared with conventional ones. Governor of Mato Grosso (25% of national soy production) has publicly stated that he will not plant genetically modified soy next year. "Farmers and farm groups are only now realizing the full financial impact of this drought," said Etienne Vernet, South American Research Director of the Polaris Institute. "Many Brazilian farmers who use Round-Up Ready soy will be thinking twice about it next year."
"Despite the distressing facts of a severe drought, which some farmers are blaming on Round-Up Ready soy, Monsanto has been consistently optimistic about its prospects for Brazil in FY06," said David Macdonald, Analyst with the Polaris Institute. The Polaris Institute calls on the Monsanto to review what pricing changes investors should expect in the Brazilian market and how those changes will affect next year's EPS estimates.
Contact: David Macdonald, Tel: 613-237-1717 Cell: 613-725-7606 - Etienne Vernet, email@example.com, Tel: +011 55 21 22 25 67 39
Massacre in the department of Caaguazu - PARAGUAY - Written by Javiera Rulli - GRR- Grupo de Reflexion Rural - firstname.lastname@example.org
Brazilean Genetically Modified soy growers protected by the police and military in Paraguay have attacked last friday (24/06/05) a peasant community, TEKOJOJA, in Caaguazu. They have evicted 270 people, burnt down all the 54 houses and crops. 2 men have been killed -- ANGEL CRISTALDO and LUIS TORRES -- there are many people injured and 130 people arrested amongst them many women and children.
The peasant community of Tekojoja is a land settlement of 500 hectares were 56 peasants families live and is located 70 km from the city of Caaguazu in Paraguay. The peasant community of Tekojoja is part of the Organización Agraria y Popular, part of MCNOC (National coordination platform of peasant organisatiosn) Via Campesina Paraguay. They are also involved in the Frente por la Soberania y la Vida (Front for Food Sovereignity and Life).
Caauguazu together with San Pedro are the regions where the GM soy monocultures have mainly been expanding in Paraguay in the last 5 years. There are 2 million hectares of GM soy monocultures in Paraguay and the government plan the expansion of 2 more million hectares. In Paraguay less than 2% of the population owns 7% of the land causing the expulsion of the peasants of their historical territories.The GM soy monocultures aimed for export is a principal cause to this severe situation, the rate of land conflicts have multiplied in the last years; only in 2004, 162 land conflicts and 118
land occupation took place.
Tekojoja is one of the peasant settlement recovered during the land reform, however many of these lands have gone back to the hands of private big land owner by illegal and corrupted manouvres or by tricking of the peasant. This is the case of the Tekojoja community that has since its beginnig been threatened by the expansion of the GM soy monocultures. Adelin Osperman is a brasilean GM soy producers that want to control these lands and begun a juridical trial against the peasants despite that the settlement were legally recognised 3 years ago by the current government of Nicanor Duarte Frutos. Carlos Gonzalez member of the Coordinación de la Organizacion Agraria y Popular states "the judge in charge of the juridical process has never taken into account that these land belonged to the state and were donated to the peasant organisations with the land reform program". In august 2004, the community was attacked and tried to be evicted with the results of several arrested people and injured people.
On Friday 25 june, at 5.30 in the morning the attorney Pedro Torrales and Nelly Varela appeared with 150 policemen with the intention of evicting the whole community. While the eviction, and with the presence of the attorneys, people were brutally harassed and beaten.The police were evicting and arresting the people followed by the paramilitary groups destroying and burning the houses with caterpillar tractors. In total 130 people were arrested amongst them 40 children and they were taken to the local jail in Caaguazu. Galeano, a spoke person of the community, informed that after the incident
29 men, 19 women y 40 children have been liberated. Several peasants are missing since friday. In the eviction, the legal land owner Adelin Osperman (brasilean soy producer) joined by hired gunmen entered the land with trucks and from these shot the peasants, killing Angel Cristaldo (20 years old) , y Leopoldo Torres (49 years old) and severely injuring 5 more people in front of the policemen present in the settlement. One is still in a critic state in the Hospital La Candelaria (Caaguazu), Anibal Gonzalez had to be operated yesterday. The Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, the National Comission of Human Rights of Paragauy is covering the health care cost as the health and social services in tha country have been privatised.
At current date Ademir Oppermann and several of his gunmen have been arrested because of the murders. In the arrestement a whole arsenal of weapons were found 4 shotguns, 2 of caliber 12 and 2 of caliber 20, one revolver caliber 38, and bullets packages for shotguns, all these were found in the trucks that entered the peasant community to destroy houses and crops. The actions of these paramilitary groups have been widely denounced during the last years. It is with the help of these groups that the majority of the evictions take place ususally under the collaboration of militaries and policegroups. The last time this was denounced was in January this year when Jorge Galeano, a peasant lider of the community, denounced publicly that Opperman had hired
armed goups to terrorise the peasant communities.
The urgency is now to help to the 270 people that have lost all their belongings, they are back into their land where nothing is left. The landowner took away 3 trucks with belonging of the peasant and only one has been found back and is in the hands of the police. It is worth to remark the urgent situation of the whole community that are now facing the winter without clothes, food and shelter.
The peasant organisations have planned several demonstrations for the coming days. There wil be demonstrations in Asuncion in front of the attorneys offices, denouncing the behauvior of the two attorneys that ordered the evictions. One of them , Nelly Varela ordered verbally to the police to take the children out of the school and arrest them and take them to jail as they were criminals, stated Galeano. The peasant organisation will as well try to meet the president of INDERT (Rural Development and Land Issue Institution) and demand the protection of their lands by this institute. "Ko yvyko oremba'e, ha roi roproba haguaicha upeva; roguerekopa la documento ome'eva'ekue oreve Indert ha upevare ndorose mo'ai ko'agui (this land belongs to us and we can show it , we have the documents from the government institution INDERT and we will not leave) stated Jorge Galeano.
We ask international organisations to spread this situation, network for solidarity actions and send human right observers to Paraguay. Many land conflicts take time during the soy crop season (dec- mars) when the peasant tries to stop the pesticide fumigations in the surroundings of the communities confronting police and military that guards the soy fields.
The peasant communities need help in the form of support for legal advocacy and health care. They need to cover the costs of lawyers for the juridical processes defending their lands and to denounce the violation of their rights. The health care is privatized in Paraguay and the peasants do not have access to it. They are intensively poisoned by the fumigation of pesticides and the community members are suffering severe health problems and need to do tests and buy medicines. The coordination of women of peasant and indigenous women - CONAMURI- is at current date maintaining the courtcase against two brasilean soy producers acussed of murdering a 11 years old boy, Silvino Talavera by their uncareless fumigation of Round Ready herbicide.
BOLETÍN FSP- 24-06-05
Personal phonecall to MCNOC email@example.com ( tel= 00595 21 550598)
Call Out of CONAMURI . (Tel= 0595- 21- 490 203) firstname.lastname@example.org
Use of GM soy can aggravate problems for farmers, says agronomist - Andre Deak - Reporter Agencia Brasil - Translator: Allen Bennett - 24/06/2005
Brasilia - After a few years of planting genetically-modified (GM) soy, Brazilian farmers are going to have to spend more money on agrichemicals, says Greenpeace agronomist, Ventura Barbeiro. "The advantage of using less agrichemicals during the first years of GM soy use will disappear rapidly. Without a doubt there is an initial reduction in agrichemical use, but then the problem with weeds comes back," he says. According to Barbeiro, farmers in the US who plant GM soy that is resistant to certain weeds have found that after three years they have to use more herbicides, especially glifosato, that is manufactured by Monsanto. Barbeiro says that already in the state of Mato Grosso, there are weeds that are resistant to glifosato.
With this problem in mind, the Brazilian Farm Research Corporation (Embrapa) has prepared three types of Roundup Ready (RR) GM soy seeds specially adapted for the Brazilian savannah (cerrado) region. However, Barbeiro says that is not a good solution because RR seeds are patented by Monsanto. "What Embrapa is doing is introducing Monsanto seeds into Brazilian varieties. That is not progress, at all. Farmers who use these Embrapa seeds will pay royalties to Embrapa and Monsanto."
Barbeiro goes on to warn that continuous GM seed use is also detrimental to human health and the environment. "Use of GM soy seeds will eventually contaminate rivers," he declared. "The solution is to use agri-ecological methods of farming, instead of agrichemistry. In the Cangara da Serra region, near Cuiaba, in Mato Grosso, Brazil's largest agri-ecological soy farm is in operation. People should visit it," says Barbeiro.
Speaking for Embrapa, Plinio Itamar de Souza, who headed the team that worked on the GM soy seeds for the corporation, says that they will require herbicides that are less aggressive against the environment. Souza says the research on the three types of soy seeds took seven years.
BRAZIL: Port of Paranagua stops GM exports despite court ruling - Source: www.just-food.com - 21 Jun 2005 - http://www.just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=61079
The Brazilian port of Paranagua stepped up its ban on exports of genetically modified soybeans in May, despite a Supreme Court ruling in April that the port must ship the GM beans, the Dow Jones news agency reports. The port says it doesn't have the facilities to segregate GM and non-GM produce, but the Supreme Court ruled that argument isn't valid. During the month of May, the port turned back 745 truckloads that tested positive for GM soy. That is equivalent to 7% of the total number of truckloads that were shipped out of the port in May. Between January and April, the port turned back roughly 3% of all soy shipments as a result of the ban. Between May 28 and June 8, the port turned back nearly 200 truckloads of soy, 80 of which port authorities said were being transported by Adubos Viana for US agrifood company Cargill. According to a port spokesperson, all of the truckloads had been tested and were certified as GM-free by a third-party prior to entering the port but showed traces of GM soy when retested after entry in the port.
Last week, Brazil's federal audit court ruled that the Transport Ministry must intervene at the port to allow GM soybean exports. The ministry has 90 days to implement the Supreme Court's April ruling.
Brazil is the world's second-largest soybean producer, turning out approximately 51 m tonnes this year after initial expectations had put the crop as high as 65m tonnes. Some 21% to 26% of Brazil's 2004-05 crop was GM, according to a survey by the local Celeres agricultural consultancy. Brazil was the last major [soy] producer to approve legislation for the use of GM seeds.
Monsanto Dealt Defeat in Attempt to Invade Brazilian Schools - http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/brazil051005.cfm
GM-FREE BRAZIL - Periodical news & analysis of the Campaign For a GM-Free Brazil - Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, May 6, 2005 - Bulletin #16
Monsanto's defeat The federal government declines its support for the company's "social project", and Monsanto even has to pay for the costs The Ministry of Culture had declined its support on a project financed by the company Monsanto, which was directed to students from public schools in a number of Brazilian states. The Ministry decided to suspend the distribution of the magazines (Horizonte Geográfico) that contained texts and articles about agriculture, and were sponsored by Monsanto, leader of the transgenic market in the country.
At the very beginning of April, Monsanto had announced its new "social project", in partnership with a publishing house and the federal government (Ministry of Culture), that foreseed the distribution of didactic material concerning two of "the most important matters of our present reality: agriculture and environment". According to the company, the states of Mato Grosso, Bahia, Goiás, Rio Grande do Sul and Distrito Federal would be enrolled on the project.
The project called up attention of a number of organisations and personalities that launched a protest against the government's support to Monsanto. The partnership was denounced by the deputy Frei Sergio Gorgen who saw the obvious: the company was using public schools to advertise its products and, consequently, to gain future consumers. It also concerned teachers from all over the country that, throughout the ngo Rebea (Rede Brasileira de Educacao Ambiental), asked to the federal authorities for a more discerning evaluation of the project. The publishing house responsible for the magazine denied that material was being used to make any kind of publicity for Monsanto or for genetic modified organisms (at some point, the magazine instructed the teachers to promote a debate among the students around the subject "O grao que conquistou o Brasil" - "The grain that captivated Brazil").
The Ministry was put under pressure and decided to review the programme and, after a period of evaluation, it decided for the suspension of the magazine distribution. Moreover, the costs of the publication will not be paid with resources from the law of culture incentives anymore (as it was established beforehand).
According to the government's evaluation, "the contents of the original proposal were not fully achieved" and "they were modified by the company, without the ministry's approval". The Ministry of Culture also justified its decision by announcing, "the articles and texts were not faithful to the ones previously approved".
This episode was an undoubtedly proof of the power of the civil society. After a series of victories, like the approval of the Biosafety Bill on its terms, Monsanto was finally faced with a defeat.
GM-FREE BRAZIL - An international periodical news & analysis bulletin on the development of the struggle against GMOs in Brazil. Published by Assessoria e Serviços a Projetos em Agricultura Alternativa (AS-PTA). Editor: Sabrina Petry. The Campaign For a GM-Free Brazil is a collective of Brazilian NGOs and social movements. AS-PTA main office: Rua da Candelaria, 9/6o / Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Phone: 0055-21-2253-8317 Fax: 0055-21-2233-363 E-mail: email@example.com
Brazil ministries fight genetically modified corn imports - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - By Alastair Stewart
Brazil's Environment and Health ministries are contesting the decision of the country's biosecurity commission, or CTNBio, to authorize imports of genetically modified corn from Argentina to make up a shortage in production. The ministries argue that CTNBio President Jorge Almeida Guimaraes didn't have the power to allow the six varieties of GMO corn be imported for animal feed without holding a vote among the commission members or conducting an environmental and health impact analysis, said an Environment Ministry spokeswoman.
A ban on GMO corn imports could spell trouble for Brazil's massive chicken and pork industries. The country will need to import up to 2 million metric tons of corn in 2005 due to a decline in planting area and a severe drought in the south of the country. Traditionally, Brazil imports come from Argentina, but around 55% of Argentina's produce is GMO and the chance of contamination of non-GMO shipments is great, traders said. Under a new biosecurity law passed earlier this year, CTNBio has the power to rule whether GMO varieties are safe for use in Brazil. However, these rulings can be challenged at the biosecurity council. The two ministries will take their complaint to the newly formed National Biosecurity Council, which is composed of 11 ministers and chaired by Presidential Chief of Staff Jose Dirceu, said the spokeswoman.
Guimaraes's approval was published on April 4, ending a effective four-year embargo on corn imports from Argentina because of the GMO issue. The first cargo of Argentine GMO corn, of 27,000 tons, was unloaded at the northeastern port of Recife last Tuesday. The CTNBio, in its decision, said there is no indication that GMO corn has any damaging effects when used as animal feed. The ruling also showed that the corn should be separated during unloading, transportation, stocking and processing of the grains. "This simply isn't enough," said the Environment Ministry spokeswoman.
The actions of CTNBio over the last three months have been the center of much controversy. Soon after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed off on the biosecurity bill, the committee liberated a number of GMO varieties. This created a storm of protest and, in the middle of last month, the government decision prohibit CTNBio from issuing rulings until the biosecurity law is published. Should Argentine GMO corn be barred, chicken and hog farmers could look to Europe and the U.S. for suppliers, although the amount imported would drop dramatically. An increase in Brazilian corn production has allowed the government to avoid the GMO import problem over the last four years. Indeed, Brazil became a major corn exporter as European and Asian buyers sought out its non-GMO production.
Copyright © Dow Jones Newswires
Transgenics Is Like the Plague and Brazil Caught It - Written by Sergio Antonio Gorgen - Saturday, 30 April 2005
On March 4, 2005, Brazil's Law of Biosecurity, which legalizes the planting and commercialization of transgenic seeds, was approved by the National Congress. Now social movements and environmental groups have but one option: to present a case to the Federal Supreme Court to show that the law is unconstitutional. The approval of the law of Biosecurity - which actually is a threat to biosecurity - has brought the tensions between small farmers and multinational agricultural businesses to a new level. After seven years of attempts, multinational transgenic companies finally were able to get a law passed which will facilitate their goal of approving once and for all the commercial production of genetically modified produce. Since 1998, these companies have been trying to impose their products without any sort of controls. But their attempts were confounded with the resistance from social movements, environmentalists, consumers, innumerous independent scientists, and renown lawyers. Only now, during President Lula's tenure and with his support (due honor, however, goes to his Minister of Environment, Marina Silva, who has resisted the trend at every step) has it been possible for transgenic companies to get a law passed.
This law has opened the door for massive, commercial use of transgenic foods, without any studies, independent field tests, food security studies, or environmental impact studies. It is an embarrassing decision which the Brazilian nation will regret one hundred times over. The multinationals celebrate in silence. The agribusinesses celebrate in public, not even perceiving that they also are victims and will become the slaves of a handful of multinationals.
Now, agricultural multinationals will accelerate the imposition of transgenic soy across the country. Next will come cotton, then corn, sugar, rice, papaya, and tobacco. They will try to impose a general contamination of as many food products and in as many regions of the country as possible. They will move forward in their monopolies of seeds, in sales of herbicides and pesticides, and in charging royalties for the use of this technology. They will try to put us on a one-way street, and make Brazil kneel before their interests. Their objective is total control of the food market, and profit at whatever cost.
The law approved by Congress gives CTNBio (National Technical Commission of Bio-security) total power to decide to use transgenics. Housed in the Ministry of Science and Technology, the ad hoc commission is made up of scientists who meet from time to time, the majority of whom research for companies involved in transgenics. CTNBio does not have the permanent structures necessary for technical studies, evaluation, and field accompaniment concerning the effects of transgenics in nature. The technical organs with legal force and permanent structures for the evaluation and accompaniment of the impact of this new technology, Ibama (the government's environmental agency) and Anvisa (the health agency), will be obliged to honor and carry out the decisions of CTNBio, decisions which will be based on information furnished by companies interested in the legal use of transgenics.
Approval is Unconstitutional
The juridical confusion may continue as the Federal Constitution, article 225, demands environmental impact studies before an activity which may cause environmental damage can be legalized. Increasing every day are scientific studies from all over the world which demonstrate the environmental risks of transgenic plants. The same group of scientists who warned the world about climatic changes today are alerting us about the risks of transgenics. But popular consciousness about these risks will force society to exert pressure on governments and lawmakers to apply the principle of caution in the legalization of transgenic foods on a large scale. Our resistance will continue. We will denounce the disastrous consequences of transgenics for farmers, the environment, health, the sovereignty and economy of the nation.
These seven years of resistence have not been in vain. The multinationals have succeeded in imposing their new form of domination at the worst possible moment for them: agribusiness controlled by multinationals is sinking in a severe crisis with the increase in the costs of agricultural production, the fall of international prices, and the devaluing of the dollar. As transgenics are part of this model, if the model enters into crisis, it also affects the strategy of implantation. It is in this crisis that we need to prepare ourselves and advance in the construction and consolidation of our own alternative projects. It is up to us to move forward with new models of agriculture, with new land reforms, technology with ecological bases, and agricultural production controlled by small farmers, organized in cooperatives under their own control, and producing varied foods to feed, before all else, the Brazilian people.
Friar Sergio Antonio Gorgen is a state congressman of the Workers' Party from Rio Grande do Sul, and has worked closed with the MST (Movement of Landless Workers) since the 80's when he was a member of the Catholic Church's Land Commission. He is the author of the book, "O Massacre da Fazenda Santa Elmira" (Saint Elmira's Farm Massacre).
Originally published at the newspaper Sem Terra.
NB how to protest at end of the GM-Free Brazil bulletin below. For more on the pro-GM lobby's assault on schools:
Periodical news & analysis of the Campaign For a GM-Free Brazil - Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, April 20, 2005. Bulletin #15
Monsanto and public schools
The company is now engaged on children education and, supported by the Ministry of Culture, developed a "social" project to take its doctrine into public schools After its successful lobbying campaign to liberate the transgenics in Brazil, that ended up with the approval of the Biosafety Bill at the Deputies Chamber, followed by the president's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signature of the law, now the giant company Monsanto is engaged on an attempt to rule the subjects of agriculture and environment at public schools in Brazil. Two weeks ago, the company proudly announced its new partnership with a publishing house that foresees the distribution of didactic material concerning these two disciplines to a number of public schools in the country. The project was presented as a programme of "social responsibility", but obviously, it means much beyond that, and it surely aims to gain future consumers of GMOs (genetic modified organisms). The aggravating circumstance is that the project has the support of the Ministry of Culture through the federal law of culture incentive. According to Monsanto, high school students from 5.049 public schools from the states of Mato Grosso, Bahia, Goias, Rio Grande do Sul and Distrito Federal will be enrolled on the project. Moreover, 560 junior and high school teachers, educators and instructors are receiving "information, support textbooks and additional training courses regarding two of the most important matters of our present reality: agriculture and environment".
At some point the leaflet "Horizonte Geografico", Monsanto's partner on the project, instructs the teachers to promote a debate among the students around the subject "O grao que conquistou o Brasil" ("The grain that captivated Brazil", in English), a reference to the Soya seed. Is that what it is important on children's education? Monsanto was not satisfied in sponsoring the smuggling of its transgenic seeds from Argentina to Brazil, neither with its lobbying campaign to vote the Biosafety Bill on its terms, not even with its campaign of deceiving advertising, and now will use public schools to reach thousands of kids and promote its doctrine. We hereby denounce this absurd and request you all to write a letter to the Ministry of Culture, asking for this project to be reviewed. The letters should be sent to the following electronic addresses:
Gilberto Gil Minister of Culture - firstname.lastname@example.org
Adolpho Netto Cabinet Executive - email@example.com
Luiz Artur Toríbio Communications Assessor - firstname.lastname@example.org
For more background and context see:
Fury at pro-GM school magazines - http://www.organicconsumers.org/school/news/progematerial.cfm
Letter to the Scottish Minister of Education - http://www.members.tripod.com/~ngin/11101b.htm
John Innes Centre in our schools - http://www.members.tripod.com/~ngin/biospin.htm
The pro-GM play for performance in schools - http://www.members.tripod.com/~ngin/articlebartlett.htm
SOUTH AMERICAN MINISTERS REFUSE MONSANTO ROYALTY PLAN - Reuters, April 4 2005
BUENOS AIRES - Farm ministers from Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay -- the world's top soybean exporters behind the United States -- on Friday shunned a bid by US biotech pioneer Monsanto to charge royalties on genetically modified soybeans when they are harvested. Royalties "should only be charged when farmers buy seeds," said a statement issued by Argentina after a special meeting of the Southern Agricultural Council in Cartagena, Colombia at the request of Argentine Agriculture Secretary Miguel Campos. The meeting arose from a protracted battle between Argentina and Monsanto over GMO soy royalties. Chile's Agriculture Minister Jaime Campos also attended, as did lower-level Uruguayan and Bolivian officials.
Monsanto officials in Buenos Aires declined to comment. The St. Louis, Missouri-based company wants Argentine farmers to pay technology fees for its herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready soybeans.
The statement did not refer specifically to soybeans, and could include other crops such as wheat. Argentina approved Roundup Ready soy for planting in 1996 and Monsanto used to embed the royalties charge into soybean seed prices. But because the black market for soy seeds is so great, the company stopped selling such seeds altogether in 2003. Many other companies continue to sell soy seeds containing Roundup Ready genes, however, paying licensing fees to Monsanto. Only 20 percent of Argentina's $1 billion, annual soybean seed trade is legal.
Months-long talks to set royalties collapsed last month when Monsanto warned Argentine exporters it aimed to impose a $15-per-tonne fine on Argentine shipments of Roundup Ready beans in European nations where the gene is patented. In February, the firm had proposed a $1-per-tonne charge on Argentine soy and soy derivatives in 2005, rising to $2.50 per tonne between 2006 and 2011. Argentina's Campos responded by threatening to take Monsanto to court if it levies fines in European ports. Campos, who insists technology fees should be charged as part of the seed price, rallied five neighboring countries to his side. South American officials "urged farmers in the region to reject accords to pay any kind of royalties compensation on harvested grains," the statement said.
Last month, farmers in Paraguay agreed to pay royalties to Monsanto for Roundup Ready soybeans grown this season. But the company has yet to reach a national accord in Brazil, where GMO crops were just recently approved. Argentina has drafted a legislative bill to crack down on the illegal seed trade.
On Thursday, Campos met in Colombia with US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, who expressed concern over Argentina's lack of royalties payments, according to a statement issued afterward by Argentina's Agriculture Secretariat. Johanns said this puts US farmers who pay royalties at a competitive disadvantage. But the Secretariat statement said Campos replied that US subsidies on farm production and exports are even less fair.
© 2005 Reuters Limited.
BRAZIL: Soy Boom Highlights Biotech Advances, but Encounters Resistance [shortened] - Mario Osava - RIO DE JANEIRO, 29?3/05 (IPS)
Large numbers of transgenic seeds have been smuggled into southern Brazil from neighbouring Argentina, and genetically modified soy is now widely planted in that region. The Brazilian legislature only recently passed a Biosafety Law that will allow genetically modified crops to be legally planted. But transgenic crops face resistance from a broad movement in Brazil in favour of a country free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Activists point out that no conclusive studies have been carried out to demonstrate that food containing GMOs is safe for human health. In addition, a group of non-governmental organisations in Brazil just released a study showing that the fast spread of soy plantations is contributing to deforestation in the country's Amazon jungle region, by driving up the value of land and encouraging clear-cutting and logging. In the meantime, the yields of the genetically modified soy grown in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul dropped sharply this year due to drought, according to farmers.
Because the seeds planted in the state are the product of contraband, and are not specifically adapted to the local climate, they are less resistant to drought, reported the Association of Producers and Traders of Seeds and Seedlings of the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Conventional varieties of soy, developed by national companies and institutions and adapted to the specific characteristics of the region, performed better, with up to 25 percent higher yields.
Soy also causes other "environmental imbalances" by requiring intensive use of toxic agrochemicals and mechanisation, as well as economic and social problems, since it is a monoculture crop, Altermir Tortelli, the coordinator of the Federation of Family Agriculture Workers of the Southern Region, remarked to IPS. Monoculture export crops accentuate the concentration of land ownership in Brazil, leaving millions of small farmers without land and aggravating the rural exodus, at the expense of diversified farming, which contributes to food security and the fight against poverty, he argued. But soy already represents nearly half of all production of basic grains and oilseeds in Brazil, and is cultivated by 243,000 agricultural producers, according to the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oils.
Brazil signs biotech safety law
St. Louis Business Journal - 4:34 PM CST Thursday, 24th March, 2005 - http://stlouis.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2005/03/21/daily66.html
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva signed a new biosafety bill into law Thursday that sets up a regulatory process to approve genetically modified crops.
Monsanto Co. said it has been working since 1997 to legally commercialize its Roundup Ready soybeans in Brazil.
"The biosafety law demonstrates that Brazil is committee to a science-based regulatory system," said Brett Begemann, executive vice president, international, for Monsanto, in a statement. "We need to know that we can protect this investment so we can continue to bring new products to growers globally."
Earlier this week, Brazil's National Technical Committee on Biotechnology approved the import of 400,000 tons of genetically modified corn from Argentina for poultry feed. That committee will continue to have authority to approve research and the commercialization of biotech crops under the new biosafety law.
Brazilian ministry protests approval of GM cotton - Luisa Massarani - 24 March 2005
[RIO DE JANEIRO] A ruling made last week in Brazil has authorised the planting and sale of a strain of cotton that is genetically modified to resist attack by insect pests. The decision, taken by the national technical commission for biosafety (CTNBio), was met with objections from the Ministry of Environment. A statement issued by the ministry on 18 March says the decision goes against the precautionary principle, and contravenes Brazilian environmental legislation and the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety - an international agreement that seeks to protect biodiversity from the potential risks of introducing genetically modified organisms. The ministry says CTNBio's decision was based on unpublished studies, adding that the risks of growing GM cotton have not yet been assessed in a Brazilian setting. CTNBio issued its approval for the US-based Monsanto company's GM cotton 'Bollgard' to be planted and sold, less than a month after Brazil's National Congress approved new biosafety legislation. The legislation, which allows Brazilians to grow and sell GM crops that have been approved by CTNBio, has yet to be signed by Brazil's president Luiz Inacio da Silva.
Previously, the responsibility for approving GM crops was shared between CTNBio and the ministries of agriculture, health, and environment. CTNBio ruled in favour of allowing the GM cotton by 11 votes to one, on 17 March. The single objecting vote came from the Ministry of the Environment. In an identically split vote, CTNBio also approved the import of 370,000 tons of GM corn from Argentina, to be used as chicken feed, on 22 March. Jairon Nascimento, executive secretary of CTNBio, told SciDev.Net that both decisions were made according to the council's normal operating procedures.
Brazil labels GM food - Luisa Massarani - 16th April 2004
[RIO DE JANEIRO] All human and animal food sold in Brazil that contains more than one per cent genetically modified (GM) ingredients must now be labelled under a law that came into force this month. The law states that the packaging of GM products should be labelled with a 'T' for 'transgenic' , no smaller than about 1 centimetre squared. It also imposes fines of between US$65 and US$1 million on producers that flout the new regulations. Three organisations will be responsible for enforcing the law: the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Health Surveillance Agency will take care of agricultural and industry matters, respectively; PROCONs, the state consumer-protection organisation will control commerce of GM products. At present, it is illegal to grow GM crops for commercial purposes in Brazil. The only exception is GM soya illegally grown in 2003, which was granted special permission to be sold for both animal and human consumption (see Brazil to allow sale of illegally grown GM food and Brazil agrees to cultivation of GM soya for now). Paradoxically, however, the new law does not require products containing the 2003 GM soya be labelled. Rather, the law states that the labels of such products should include the information: "this may contain ingredients produced by GM soya" or "this may contain GM soya". The law has received a mixed reaction in the scientific community. Silvio Valle, a biosafety expert at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, questions why the legislation is stricter for products that are unlikely to be found on the Brazilian market, such as GM maize, than it is for illegally grown GM soya, "which is a reality in our country". He says that the law does not make clear whether imported GM products must also be labelled. And he adds that it very unlikely that any labelled GM products will appear in Brazilian supermarkets this year. This is not the first time that Brazil has legislated on labelling GM food. The government of ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso introduced a law that products with more than 4 per cent GM ingredients should be labelled, a limit that was reduced to one per cent in April 2003 by president Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva. However, neither of these laws was ever put into practice.
BRAZILIAN STATE BANS GMOS
The Southern State of Parana in Brazil - Brazil's second biggest soya growing State - adopted a law that prohibits the import, planting, commercialisation, processing and exporting, via its port, of Monsanto's GM soya and other genetically modified organisms. http://www.hpj.com/testnewstable.cfm?type=story&sid=10098
Solidarity with Brazil
Authorisation to cultivate GM soya in Brazil for the next growing season was published on Friday, despite protests from Environment Minister Marina Silva, the government agency The National Environment Council, the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference, Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement, who tried to invade the agriculture ministry in protest, and other NGOs. The Federal Judges Association also announced that it will challenge the decision in the Supreme Court, saying it is unconstitutional.
The Campaign for a GM-Free Brazil asks for your help. Please, join them in a massive e-mail campaign to show Lula and his Ministers how serious the situation is.
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http://ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=20340 GM Soya Illegal, but Government Approved - Mario Osava
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sep 26 (IPS) - Genetically modified soya is gaining ground in Brazil through an illegal channel that has now been given the green light by the government itself.
Brasilia this year has enacted two exceptional measures covering a fait accompli -- the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) soya -- amidst heated debate in the legal and agricultural arenas.
Authorisation to cultivate GM soya for the next growing season was published Friday, despite protests from Environment Minister Marina Silva, the governmental National Environment Council, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and even from the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference.
The Federal Judges Association announced that it will challenge the decision in the Supreme Court, saying it is unconstitutional because a court ruling from 2000 remains in force, prohibiting the planting of transgenic organisms without conducting environmental impact studies beforehand.
The decision has created fertile ground for an institutional crisis, with the executive branch contradicting the judiciary, says Paulo Domingues, president of the judges association. The ruling from three years ago can only be revoked by another court decision, not by the ”provisional measure” that was announced Friday, he said.
The provisional measure is an instrument created by Brazil's 1998 constitution, which replaced the decree-law and allows the president to legislate in urgent cases. Congress then must ratify or reject the measure in the next 60 days.
Vice-President José Alencar, acting president while Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is visiting Mexico, Cuba and the United Nations this week, hesitated three days before signing the provisional measure Thursday night, recognising that it 'contradicts Brazilian legislation'.
A series of meetings with ministers and lawmakers revealed the deep divisions in the government on the issue of transgenic crops.
Alencar made it clear that he was uncomfortable about putting his signature to the document, but did so in compliance with Lula's decision.
It is the second time that the Brazilian government has used the provisional measure in reaction to the illegal cultivation of transgenic soya in Rio Grande do Sul state, where genetically modified seeds are smuggled in from neighbouring Argentina.
In March, the measure authorised the marketing of the soya that had already been harvested in the country's southernmost state. But it set a deadline of Jan. 31, 2004 for sales of the transgenic soya and maintained the ban on future plantings.
An estimated 70 percent of the soya grown in Rio Grande do Sul last year was transgenic. The exceptional measure was enacted with the argument that destroying the approximately six million tonnes of GM soya harvested would have triggered the collapse of the state's agricultural sector as well as a social crisis.
Those opposed to the move tried unsuccessfully to limit sales to foreign buyers only, with the goal of keeping GM soya off the domestic market.
But this second measure is different because it allows further planting of GM soya, in other words, ongoing production, says Orlando Desconsi, lawmaker of the governing Workers Party (PT) and attorney. "The judges are right," the measure violates an article of the constitution that requires studies certifying that the transgenic crops will not harm the environment, Desconsi said in a conversation with IPS.
He said that most of his PT colleagues are also against the measure, but might vote to ratify it -- out of party loyalty to Lula.
"I'll vote against it," he said.
Disconsi's hope is that the Supreme Court will annul the provisional measure, given the threat of legal action by the federal judges, the Green Party, and potentially Brazil's Attorney General Claudio Fonteles.
According to Lula, this second provisional measures is a response to the "concrete reality" of emergency, because the farmers in the south say that only transgenic soya seeds are available and that they will plant them regardless when the season begins next week.
The legalisation of this "irreversible reality" was also sought by Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues, the authorities in Rio Grande do Sul, and agribusiness groups.
The measure is necessary so that farmers can "freely choose" among available alternatives, says lawmaker Francisco Turra, of the conservative Rio Grande do Sul Progressive Party.
"The consumer is also free to choose what he wants to buy," he told IPS.
Turra, also an attorney, says the provisional measure does not create a conflict with the judiciary because the ruling in 2000 has been appealed to a higher court that has yet to issue a decision "on the merits of the case."
Even so, the government has tried to prevent the issue from reaching the courts again, imposing several restrictions with the provisional measure.
GM soya can be cultivated and sold only until Dec. 31, 2004. After that date, it will be destroyed.
The farmers who plant transgenic soya will have to sign a waiver that they will assume the responsibility for potential harm the crop causes the environment or human health.
Because the provisional measure is valid for all of Brazil, not just Rio Grande do Sul, as was the case of the first measure in March, the GM seeds cannot be transferred amongst states. The aim is to prevent the problem from expanding to the rest of Brazil, and limiting the decree to just one state would have left that door open.
There is also a ban on cultivation of GM soya in environmentally protected areas or biodiversity conservation sites in order to reduce the risk of genetic contamination.
Environment minister Silva opposes the dissemination of genetically modified organisms, basing her argument on the "precautionary principle" laid out in the Convention on Biological Diversity's Cartagena Protocol, which entered into force this month.
The studies conducted so far on the soya variety in question, Roundup Ready, of the U.S. agribusiness transnational Monsanto, were in countries with lesser biodiversity so are not valid for the Brazilian context, argues Silva.
All of the confusion was triggered by the government, which in addition to "trampling" on the judiciary, environmental laws and consumer rights, failed to keep its promises to end exceptional situations like these because it has not enacted definitive legislation on transgenics, says, Marilena Lazzarini, coordinator of the Brazilian Consumer Defence Institute (IDEC).
Studies remain inconclusive on the environmental or health impacts of transgenic crops, grown from seeds that have been altered by the introduction of genes from other species with the aim of improving yields or resistance to pests or climatic extremes.
BRAZIL GROUP STAGES PROTEST OVER GM SOY DECREE September 23, 2003 - Reuters
BRASILIA, Brazil, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Smashing a glass wall and scuffling with guards, Brazilian landless activists tried to invade the nation's Agriculture Ministry on Tuesday to protest a likely decree to allow planting of transgenic soy. Brazil's radical Landless Workers' Movement, or MST, mounted the invasion on word Brazil's center-left government was set to issue the decree on Wednesday to offer a temporary solution to the nation's contentious GM issue.
Brazil court overturns GM soy ruling - just-food.com - 09 Sep 2003 - A Brazilian court has reversed a ruling that had lifted a ban on the planting and sale of Monsanto's genetically modified soybeans. http://www.just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=55309
BRAZIL GMO FREE UPDATE - An international monthly news & analysis bulletin on the developments of the fight against GMOs in Brazil.Published by Assessoria e Servios a Projetos em Agricultura Alternativa (AS-PTA). The Campaign For a GM-Free Brazil is a collective of Brazilian NGOs (such as ActionAid Brazil, Esplar, Fase, Greenpeace Brazil, Ibase, Idec) and social movements such as Contag, MST and Via Campesina. Editor: Carlos Tautz AS-PTA main Office: Rua da Candelaria, 9/6o , Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Phone: 0055-21-2253-8317 Fax: 0055-21-2233-363 Email: email@example.com
World Markets Analysis, June 04, 2003 - Brazilian MST Activists Invade Farm Owned by Monsanto by Juliette Kerr
Members of Brazil's radical landless movement, the Movimento Sem Terra (MST), have invaded a farm belonging to the US-based multinational Monsanto in the state of Goias. The MST said that the action was taken in protest at what it sees as the illegal growing of GM crops. This is the third estate owned by Monsanto that has been occupied by the MST so far this year. The invasion of a foreign-owned farm will put further pressure on the government to mend relations with the MST. The MST is a traditional ally of the ruling Worker's Party (PT) and whilst the MST refrained from staging any high-profile land invasions during Lula's electoral campaign, it has restarted illegal land occupations in order to put pressure on the government to deliver its pledges for agrarian reform. In recent weeks the MST has become increasingly daring, creating its largest ever encampment in the state of Sao Paulo, which plans to bring together 5,000 families. The PT's attitude to GM-modified crops is somewhat ambiguous: it has banned the sowing of any new crops, but stockpiles of GM-crops from the previous harvest can still be sold.
Meanwhile Brazil's role as the world's leading exporter of non-GM soya is being undermined and subverted by illegally sown GM seeds in the south coming through a finacially prostituted Argentina, as well as multinational pressure from Monsanto in the north. The Brazilian government and the people themselves are valiantly dealing with these unwanted legacies and problems. (see www.brazzil.com/p134apr03.htm)