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2-Plants: Brazil court eases path for GMO corn, cotton, rice

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Brazil court eases path for GMO corn, cotton, rice
SOURCE: Reuters, by Reese Ewing
DATE:   3 Sep 2004 

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UPDATE 1-Brazil court eases path for GMO corn, cotton, rice

SAO PAULO, Brazil, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Brazil's biotech regulator said on
Friday it could clear new varieties of genetically modified (GMO) soy,
corn, cotton and rice for commercial use by December, after five years of

On Wednesday, a federal tribunal said a majority of its judges recognized
the power of the government's Technical Commission on Biotechnology
(CTNBio) to determine what GMO products can be sold in Brazil.

"The commission (CTNBio) could produce final technical findings
(clearance) by December for three products," CTNBio's executive secretary
Jairon do Nascimento told Reuters.

The executive said the commission was closest to granting clearance to
GMO varieties of corn, cotton and rice, which have been developed by U.S.
biotech seed giant Monsanto, Germany's agrochemicals maker BASF, Bayer
Seeds and other bioengineering companies.

He did not specify which firms were seeking approval for which crops.

Over the past five years the CTNBio has been hobbled by court injunctions
from environmental group Greenpeace and the local consumer watchdog Idec
that challenged its authority. And the two groups are preparing to file a
new appeal next week.

"It's not the final decision on the issue," said Mariana Paoli,
specialist in Brazil on GMOs for Greenpeace. "It would be crazy to think
new GMO products will be entering the market right away because of this

Idec lawyer Paulo Pacini said the court's decision, published on
Wednesday, was only preliminary. Pacini said Idec and Greenpeace would
appeal in the same court before the decision became binding.

But legal specialists say the CTNBio's powers will remain intact as
subsequent appeals run their course, unlike the past five years.

"It will be very hard for Idec or Greenpeace to challenge the CTNBio's
power to regulate the biotech sector now," biotech legal specialist
Antonio Jose Monteiro at Pinheiros Neto Advogados told Reuters.

"And even if they get an appeal accepted, CTNBio's powers will remain
active until the court rules otherwise," he added.

The CTNBio's 36 scientist members are due to meet again on Oct. 21-22.

"We have at least 11 GMO products from soybeans, corn and cotton to human
and animal vaccines that we are considering for approval on the
commercial market in Brazil," Jairon said.

Brazil's environmental regulator Ibama and its governing Environment
Ministry have been resistant to GMO products in Brazil and have listed
them as "pollutants" and threats to the environment and human health.

"After the recent court ruling, Ibama should have no authority on GMO
matters, but if they resist the authority of the CTNBio they may have to
be challenged in court," said Monteiro.

"We are recommending to our clients that they push ahead now with trying
to get their GMO products cleared by the CTNBio," said Monteiro.



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