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6-Regulation: Brazil measure ignites congressional GM soy debate

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Brazil measure ignites congressional GM soy debate
SOURCE: Reuters, by Sarah Rink and Reese Ewing
DATE:   Apr 7, 2003

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Brazil measure ignites congressional GM soy debate

BRASILIA, Brazil - A draft measure proposed last week by the new
government to rein in Brazil's rampant illegal transgenic soy trade
unleashed a storm of 70 proposals to alter the measure in Congress.

Statesmen drew sides in debate on the lower house floor, some pushing for
stricter enforcement of Brazil's ban on genetically modified crops, to
which the former government had turned a blind eye for years.

By unofficial estimates, transgenic soy seeds, smuggled from Argentina
where they are legal, are responsible for as much as 30 percent of
Brazil's record 50-million-tonne crop - the world's second largest after
the United States, according to the Association of Brazilian Seed
Producers (Abrasem).

Others statesmen said the government proposal to clamp down on the huge
black market in GM seeds and illicit plantings was a step backward and
called for a permanent lifting of the ban.

Although Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues has refrained from
voicing support of biotechnology in agriculture since he took office this
year, when he opened the floor debate last week he said: "Brazil cannot
miss the train of history and deny new technologies."

"The society was stirred up by this measure, it is good to see that the
legislature is too," Rodrigues said.

But the new government said officially last month that it would uphold
Brazil's ban and proposed provisional measure 113 last week in an effort
to gain control of illegal GM soy planting.

Measure 113 calls for the testing of nearly the entire soy crop for GM,
the separation of conventional soy from GM and the temporary legalization
of sales of new crop GM soy with labels until January 2004, after which
time GM would again be banned.


Nearly half the new crop has been harvested without segregation of GM soy
and, by the time the measure leaves committee, the whole crop would have
been harvested. And GM soy has been running unsegregated through the food
system here for years.

Only a fraction of the logistic, storage and processing chain is equipped
to separate GM from conventional soy. Food processors in Brazil have
never labeled for GM contents and there is no standard for testing the
genetic integrity of a truck or silo of soy.

Federal representative Roberto Freire, an author of one of the amendments
to 113 put forth last week, questioned the government's argument behind
making GM soy sales illegal again in 2004 because they believe GM soy
could be harmful.

"(The government) wants to say that only after January (2004) it's going
to do harm?" Freire asked journalists. "This is backward. If it was
harmful the government wouldn't have liberated the sale of the crop. It
would be irresponsible."

Freire's amendment calls for easing restrictions on labeling of foods
with GM, the legalization of GM seed trading and the suppression of any
fines for planting GM soy, as is currently proposed by 113.

The lower house will install a special committee by next Wednesday to
wade through the 70 proposed amendments and should put a measure before a
plenary vote by May 10, about the time when the soy harvest traditionally
ends here.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Agribusiness urged to reassure consumers on GM soy
SOURCE: Reuters, by Peter Blackburn
DATE:   Apr 4, 2003

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Agribusiness urged to reassure consumers on GM soy

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Agribusiness must make a greater effort to
convince consumers that genetically modified (GM) soy presents no health
or environmental risk, Brazilian and European food experts said yesterday.

But a U.S. oilseed industry leader noted that GM soy was already widely
accepted and traded in the world market.

"More information and research is needed to show the benefits of GM crops
to consumers," Eduardo Martins, President of Brasilia-based environmental
consultants E.Labore told a world oilseed crushers conference.

Marketing has previously focused on economic benefits for farmers.

Martins said he expected a long-awaited decision later this month from a
Brazilian federal court to clear the way for commercial use of GM
soybeans. Alone among the top three growers, Brazil still bans GM soy,
though it allowed a loophole this year.


In the European Union, efforts are being made to restore consumer
confidence in food safety, which has been shattered by outbreaks of so-
called mad cow and foot-and-mouth diseases.

Patrick Deboyser, head of food law and biotechnology at the European
Commission, said that European consumers and food retailers needed to be
better informed so that they could choose whether to risk GM foodstuffs.

New EU legislation is expected to come into force next year for mandatory
labelling of GM food and animal feed irrespective of whether it contains
genetically modified DNA or protein, he said.

"Vegetable oils will have to be labelled, but the big change will be for
animal feed," Deboyser told Reuters.

European consumers have unknowingly been eating meat from animals fed
with GM soy meal.

After the new EU legislation, Deoboyser said that the import of three new
GM food products was expected to be approved - BT11 sweet corn produced
by Swiss firm Syngenta AG and U.S. Monsanto Co.'s (MON.N) GA21 and NK603
Roundup Ready maize.

Brazil's Martins told Reuters that the key point was the potential
environmental risk and this would take time to assess. "It must be
analyzed from the Brazilian perspective," he said, adding that this
should delay approval to grow GM crops.

"At the end of the day it will be up to the market to decide whether to
use GM products," he said adding that the "tug of war" between
government, farmers and environmentalists will continue.

Problems about the control of production and marketing of GM crops and
segregation and labelling of food products still had to be resolved, he noted.


But Al Ambrose, immediate past-chairman of the U.S. National Oilseed
Processors Association (NOPA), said that people should look at what was
happening in the world soy market.

He pointed out that more than half the soybeans and soy meal imported by
the EU for animal feed was transgenic, despite official curbs.

Deboyser added that half the world soybean crop was transgenic and that
in the United States and Argentina, the world's No.1 and No.3 growers,
the GM share was 73 percent and 93 percent respectively.

China, the world's largest soybean importer, took GM supplies, he said,
noting a phenomenal increase in purchases to some 16 million tonnes in
2002/03, from zero in 1992.