Invasion mounted at Brazils' ag ministry to protest GM soy (24/9/2003)

1.Brazil group stages protest over GM soy decree
2.Report: Brazil approves planting of biotech soy
Brazil group stages protest over GM soy decree
September 23, 2003

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.

"We decided to occupy the ministry after we learned a decree was going to come out tomorrow," an MST spokesman said, after 200 MST activists were pushed back by ministry guards.

Brazil is the world's No. 2 soybean producer and exporter after the United States and the last major agricultural exporter to forbid the planting and sale of GM crops.

The decree is seen as a stopgap measure, given widespread illegal GM soy planting in Brazil, and the absence of clear regulatory legislation on transgenics.

In March the government granted an amnesty to defiant GM soy farmers, principally in the south, to sell their transgenic crops, which are believed to make up as much as 30 percent of Brazil's total soy output.

Beto Albuquerque, deputy leader of the government in the lower chamber of Congress, told journalists on Tuesday the government was determined to liberate GM soy planting via a decree to be published in the official Diario Oficial newspaper on Wednesday.

"The government is taking all precautions to do it within the framework of the law," he said.

The MST opposes transgenic soy on the grounds it transfers control of the crop to big seed producers without any economic, health or environmental advantages to small farmers.

Soy farmers argue GM soybeans require less herbicide and are cheaper to grow than other soybeans.
Report: Brazil approves planting of biotech soy
A Brazilian official has approved the planting of genetically modified soybeans in that country, opening the door for Monsanto Co. to begin collecting royalties from farmers who plant Roundup Ready soy.

Reuters news service reported that the Brazilian government is expected to issue an official decree.

Last week, Monsanto Co.'s Brazilian unit began running ads asking soybean farmers to pay royalties on future use of its Roundup Ready soybeans. The company ran a notice in several southern Brazil newspapers, despite a Brazilian court ruling earlier this month restoring that country's ban on the planting and sale of Monsanto's genetically modified soybeans.

Brazil is the No. 2 soy producer in the world after the United States, and is the last major agricultural exporter to ban genetically modified crops and foods. It is estimated that about 30 percent of Brazil's soybean crops are Roundup Ready. The seeds are thought to be smuggled in from neighboring Argentina.

St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) develops insect- and herbicide-resistant crops and other agricultural products.

Go to a Print friendly Page

Email this Article to a Friend

Back to the Archive