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9-Misc: Brazil militants invade Monsanto biotech test farm



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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Brazil militants invade Monsanto biotech test farm
SOURCE: Reuters, by Inae Riveras
DATE:   May 19, 2003

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Brazil militants invade Monsanto biotech test farm

SAO PAULO, Brazil - Militants of the Landless Peasant Movement (MST) in
Brazil invaded a Monsanto Co. test farm last week in a bid "to expel" the
U.S. biotech giant and set up an organic farm on the site.

The incursion by some 80 members from the MST and other landless groups
onto an experimental farm in Ponta Grosso, Parana was aimed at stopping
Monsanto from using farming methods unpopular in the state, according to
the group.

"The government of Parana says it doesn't want transgenics and we
producers don't want it," said MST leader Celio Rodrigues. "Thus, it is
not right for it (Monsanto) to have a technical center here."

Parana is a large farm state in southern Brazil where Monsanto tests
conventional and genetically modified corn and soybeans.

Rodrigues said the objective of the occupation was "to expel" Monsanto
from the state and convert the 43 hectares (106 acre) farm to organic
production.

The commercial planting of GM crops in Brazil has been banned since 1998.
But a thriving black market in Monsanto's trademark Roundup Ready GM soy
has developed in southern Brazil. The GM beans are thought to be smuggled
in Argentina and Paraguay were RR soy is widely planted.

As much as 30 percent of Brazil's total soy output was estimated to be
illegal GM, according to the seed producers association Abrasem, and
illegal planting in the south, where the climate is favorable to the
Argentine and Paraguayan varieties, is much more wide spread than in
other regions.

Monsanto said it has always condemned the illegal planting of GM soy in
Brazil.

Experimental GM planting, however, is legal and much of the company's
research is conducted jointly with the government crop research arm
Embrapa. Monsanto said test planting on its farms was in accordance with
Brazilian law.

Monsanto is one of Brazil's biggest producers and sellers of conventional
soy, corn and other crop seed stock, as well as farm chemicals and
fertilizers.

"They can go back to the United States, Argentina or Canada, where
transgenics are liberated," said Rodrigues.

The Ponta Grossa farm was invaded on May 9 by 800 militants who destroyed
some laboratories and burned down corn fields.

Monsanto said it has asked authorities to prosecute those responsible for
"acts of violence against its staff, property and research and
development in Brazil."

"We have big assets of biodiversity in Parana and Monsanto represents a
threat," said Antonio Volochen from the Forum of Rural Workers in Parana,
that participated in the occupation.


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Brazil biotech chief defends GM crop safety role
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   May 20, 2003

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Brazil biotech chief defends GM crop safety role

RIO DE JANEIRO - The government's commission on biotechnology (CTNBio)
should continue to decide whether transgenic crops are safe, CTNBio's
president, Erney Camargo, said.

That contradicts the view of the Brazilian government's new Environment
Minister Marina Silva who wants to demote the commission to a
consultative body and widen the debate on genetically modified (GM) crops.

"If the commission says that the product is safe, or the the contrary,
this should determine the actions of all other organizations," Camargo
said in an interview with the Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

To plant or sell GM crops without authorization from the CTNBio is a
crime under Brazil's 1995 biosecurity law.

Camargo, who was recently appointed by Brazil's left-leaning President
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, explained that the agency examined the safety
of GM crops for humans, animals and the environment.

"CTNBio is a technical agency. It gives technical opinions on the safety
of transgenic crops," he said. "In my view, our opinion on biosecurity
should be binding."

Camargo noted that it was not the agency's role to give opinions on the
social or economic impact of transgenic crops.

CTNBio is currently examining 270 research dossiers on GM crops,
including requests for the commercial sale of 12 GM crop varieties -
mostly corn - which resist herbicides and insects.

The requests were made by Aventis Seeds Brasil, Monsanto do Brasil,
Syngenta Seeds, the Brazilian Association of Food Industries and the
Pernambuco Poultry Association.

Last week more than 200 crop researchers sent a manifesto to President
Lula complaining of more than three years of bureaucratic delays in
approving new GM crop varieties.

Researchers mainly blame the government's environmental protection
institute (Ibama), part of the decision-making process, and called for
CTNBio's role to be strengthened.

Although commercial planting of GM crops has been banned since 1998, a
thriving black market in Monsanto's (MON.N) "Roundup Ready" GM soy has
developed in southern Brazil.

President Lula's government granted a temporary exception to the ban on
the sale of GM soy for this year's crop.