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6-Regulation: Further delay in Brazil GMO ruling



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TITLE:  Further delay in Brazil GMO ruling
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   Feb 17, 2003

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Further delay in Brazil GMO ruling

SAO PAULO, Brazil - A federal court ruling on genetically modified
organisms (GMOs), due last week, has been delayed and and it's unclear
when it will be made, a court spokeswoman said.

The delay comes despite the Federal Regional Court's rejection on
Thursday of a request by Environment Minister Marina Silva to suspend a
ruling on a bid by the previous government to hasten a decision by
dispensing with a GMO environmental impact study.

"There's no precise date for the ruling," the spokeswoman for the federal
regional court in Brasilia said last week.

In a statement on Thursday, federal judge Selene Maria de Almeida said
that the case was already under way and there was no legal reason for
further delay.

"There is no legal provision...to suspend judgment in the middle of the
process," De Almeida said.

Environment Minister Marina Silva requested on Feb. 4 that the ruling be
suspended as the new government of President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva
needed more time to re-examine the issue.

An environment ministry spokesman said last week that the ministry was
studying the court's decision.

The National Environmental Council, which controls GMO licensing, decided
in June 2002 that implementation was up to the Environment Ministry.

In 1997, Monsanto Co. (MON.N) gained permission from the government's
commission on biotechnology (CTNBio) to start field tests on transgenic crops.

In 1998, Monsanto requested approval for commercial planting of
genetically modified Roundup Ready soy.

Although CTNBio approved the request, saying there was no environmental
risk or danger to human or animal health, local consumer and
environmental groups challenged CTNBio's authority in the courts.

At the Brasilia-based federal regional court, one of the three judges
examining the case has ruled in favor of recognizing the CTNBio's
authority but the other two judges are still considering the question.