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7-Business: Brazil oilseed leader says GM soy move won't work

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TITLE:  Brazil oilseed leader says GM soy move won't work
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   Apr 3, 2003

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Brazil oilseed leader says GM soy move won't work

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - A Brazilian oilseed industry leader said this
week that last week's government compromise allowing the sale this year
of illegal genetically modified soybeans was impractical.

"It's bureaucratic and won't work," Carlo Lovatelli, president of the
Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oils Industries (Abiove), told
reporters at a world seed crushers conference.

Soy producers are angry because they must now pay to have their crop
certified and labelled as either transgenic or conventional.

But Lovatelli said the provisional government measure provided a window
of opportunity for soybean growers in Brazil's No. 3 producer state, Rio
Grande do Sul, where GM soy is most widespread.

"It's a victory for the agriculture ministry and facilitates trade with
China," he said. China is the world's top buyer of soybeans.

Brazil's environment ministry, citing environmental and health risks,
opposed any relaxation of the country's ban.

Lovatelli said that the measure solved the problem of marketing up to 6
million tonnes of soy in Rio Grande do Sul.

It's worth about $1 billion, he said, adding that banning the sale of the
crop would be like "shooting oneself in the foot."

Lovatelli said he thought it was only a matter of time before trade in
genetically modified soybeans became universal.

He said that Brazil's congress would debate the issue and introduce
possible amendments to the measure, which applies until Jan. 31, 2004.

Lovatelli estimated that GM soy now accounts for 54 percent of world
trade in the product. Nearly all the soybeans in neighbouring Argentina,
the world's No. 3 producer, are transgenic.

Brazil, the world's No. 2 soy producer, is one of the last major
agricultural nations to still ban GM crops. But industry sources estimate
that 15 percent to 20 percent of the country's soy crop is transgenic.

GM soy is popular with farmers because it requires less herbicide,
reducing production costs and raising profits.