GENET archive


2-Plants: Planting Bollgard cotton is illegal in Brazil

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

TITLE:  Planting Bollgard cotton is illegal in Brazil
SOURCE: by Etienne Vernet, Polaris Institute, Brazil
DATE:   Sep 2005

------------------ archive: ------------------

Planting Bollgard cotton is illegal in Brazil

Over the past several months we are witnessing a worldwide marketing
campaign celebrating the future planting of GE cotton in Brazil.
According to some sources: "Brazil, the world's fifth-largest cotton-
grower, will probably become the largest growth market for biotech cotton
after the government officially approved the release of genetically
modified varieties in March."(1)

What these sources do not say is that bollgard's planting for the coming
years will be illegal, as were the five percent of Brazil's 1.3 million
tonne of last year harvest "that were coming from black market".

It all began last spring when the CNTbio(2), the Biotechnological
National Assessment Committee under the authority of the Ministry of
Science and Technology, authorized the commercialization of "conventional
cotton containing up to 1% of transgenic traits for the 2004/05 harvest."

However, according to the prosecutor of the Republic, Ana Paula
Mantovani: "the decision was taken without a proper and rigorous
technical assessment which could have detected potentials impact to food
security, human health and environmental risks." Furthermore she added
that: "it lacked the approval of two third of the eighteen members as
determined by the Law 8.974/95."(3)

On the 20th of July, the Public Ministry sent recommendations to all the
interested parties to inform them that CNTBio's decision should not be
implemented. These recommendations were not compulsory, but the CNTBio
had 10 days to respond and justify its decision. If the Public Ministry
does not find the justifications satisfactory then it will enter into a
public challenge against the decision.(4)

Similarly to the CNTBio's controversial decision and because it took some
time for the new Biosafety Law to enter effectively in force, the
activity of the Ministry of Agriculture was paralyzed. Until now, it had
not finalized the registration proceedings of the GE variety, which
therefore cannot be legally planted in Brazil.(5)

The GE cotton seeds have been imported into Brazil since May 2004 by the
MDM, a joint venture between the Brazilian group Maeda(6) and the
American Delta & Pine Lands. The company is the only one authorized by
Monsanto to commercialize the bollgard seeds in Brazil. For the moment,
GE cotton seeds are in quarantine until they can be assessed. After this
period, the seeds will be tested during two harvests by the Embrapa to
verify whether or not they present environmental risks to other "local"
cotton varieties. If after this period, they are approved, the seeds will
be commercialized by MDM. The process should take upwards of three years
before the GE cotton seeds reach the market.(7)

According to Eleutério da Silva, the Program Director of the
Agropastoral's Defense Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture: "the
process of analyze of the MDM's Bollgard seeds will take at least three
years." The company will not be able to sell the seeds before the variety
is registered in the national seed catalogue. Registration can only occur
after the ongoing assessment process."

The slowness of the assessment process was not well received by Jorge
Maeda, President of Maeda, the main shareholder of MDM. He noted that:
"our company made a request to the Ministry of Agriculture to multiply
the seeds, six months ago, to be able to commercialized them in October
2005, so that we would have been able to made them available to the
cotton producers, for the next harvest 2005/06, but the government did
not send us any response."(8)

Monsanto confirmed the delay and declared: "we are not going to be able
to commercialize varieties adapted to Brazilian conditions for several
years." This decision is yet another setback for Monsanto which is
already: "studying the best way (to collect royalty) during the 2005/06
crop season."

Based on this information, lawyers(9) are claiming that any importer
which attempts to commercialize GE cotton in Brazil could be charged.
Cotton producers that plant GE cotton would face similar criminal charges.

A coalition of Brazilian NGOs is ready to file court challenges to stop
GE cotton from being planted. The next months will show us whether the
Agriculture Ministry's will act on its claims. In the meantime, the
Brazilian NGOs will continue to apply pressure to make sure it does.

Rio de Janeiro
September 2005
Etienne Vernet(10)

 1) The Abrapa and the Aiba alledge that by the harvest 2006/07, 50% to
60 % of the cotton of Brazil will be transgenic.
 2) On 17th of March the CNTBio approved the commercial use of the GE
cotton, Bollgard of Monsanto
 3) Modified by the MP 2.191-9
 4) The CNTBio's response was not accepted by the Public Minsitry, which
asked for further evaluations to be presented.
 5) Correspondance of the Ministry of Agriculture in response to a letter
coming from the Agriculture Secretariat of the State of Parana, dated
25th of July.
 6) A group considered as the largest cotton producer of the world.
 7) Valor Economico 27th of July 2005
 8) Valor Economico 1st, 2th, 3rd of July 2005
 9) Ibid 5.
10) Etienne Vernet is the South American Research Director of the Polaris


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
W: <>

   GENET-news mailing list