Transgenics Is Like the Plague and Brazil Caught It (2/5/2005)

Friar Sergio Antonio Gorgen is a state congressman of the Workers' Party from Rio Grande do Sul, and has worked closely with the MST (Movement of Landless Workers) since the 80's when he was a member of the Catholic Church's Land Commission.

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.

General Contamination

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.

Written by Guest on 2005-04-30 00:40:01
The big companies always keep on lobbying and trying to buy off the political leadership until eventually, sooner or later, even it it takes many years, they get the laws they want. Call me a pessimist if you want, but that seems to be the way these things go.
Put up a fight, Brazil...
Written by Guest on 2005-04-30 18:14:47
I hope you guys stand up and put up a fight. I am an American living in Brazil since 2000. One of the things I love so much about this country is that the food is wholesome and natural. The beef down here is so much better than in my country. So many of the foods in the U.S. have hormones, etc. in them for capitalistic reasons. It's no wonder why my people are getting so big and fat in epidemic-like proportions. KEEP BRAZILIAN FOOD NATURAL!
stop the world i want to get off
Written by Guest on 2005-04-30 19:11:08
more bullshit from the suits, farmes will be forced to grow this shit, and no one wants to buy what then. expement on the starving?
already one crop that can produce food clothing and fuel is outlawed world wide, hemp. now they want to foce feed us petrochemicals too.

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