Monsanto Dealt Defeat in Attempt to Invade Brazilian Schools
Periodical news & analysis of the Campaign For a GM-Free Brazil
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, May 6, 2005
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 protected]
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