GENET archive


9-Misc: Syngenta fined over GM tests in Brazil

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  Syngenta fined over GM tests in Brazil
SOURCE: swissinfo, by Adam Beaumont
DATE:   22 Mar 2006

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Syngenta fined over GM tests in Brazil
Tests on plants at Syngenta's research centre in Stein, canton Aargau
Swiss agrochemicals giant Syngenta has been hit with a SFr600,000
($461,000) fine in Brazil for planting transgenic seeds close to a
protected nature reserve.
The Basel-based company strongly denies any wrongdoing and says it will
appeal against the penalty imposed by the country's environmental
protection agency, Ibama.
The fine relates to the company's test site for genetically modified (GM)
soya bean and corn in southern Brazil, which has been occupied by
hundreds of peasant activists for over a week.

Ibama says Syngenta broke the law by planting 30 acres of transgenic soy
six kilometres from Iguaçu National Park, inside a ten-kilometre
exclusion zone.

Syngenta refutes this, saying the GM crop is outside the protected area.
The company stresses that it has all the necessary legal permits from the
National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio) for its experiments.

"We are under the assumption that we did indeed apply the regulations,
but Ibama is saying the law is wrong and the authority we got from CTNBio
is wrong. We see this as a political battle between these two agencies,"
Syngenta spokesman Guy Wolff told swissinfo.

"We strongly defend our point of view that we did nothing illegal and
there will be an appeal."

Farm occupation
Several hundred small farmers and peasants from the Via Campesina
movement are still occupying the farm despite being given five days to
leave the farm in Parana state last Thursday.

The international peasants' organisation, which is allied to Brazil's
militant Landless Peasants' Movement, invaded the site over a week ago to
protest at the "serious environmental crime" said to have been committed
by Syngenta.

They are demanding an immediate halt to the Swiss firm's activities in
the area and have pushed for charges to be brought against both the
company and CTNBio.

The Swiss agricultural chemicals and seeds company said on Wednesday that
even though the deadline for leaving the farm had expired, it did not
intend to call in the police to evict the protesters. It said it was keen
to avoid doing anything that would "worsen the situation".

Earlier this month about 2,000 Via Campesina members invaded a plantation
owned by a pulp and paper firm in southern Brazil where they destroyed a
million saplings and damaged a research laboratory.

"Usually we would call the police to have the order executed but we
haven't done that yet," said Wolff.

"We don't want them to start smashing up the place. We don't want to
provoke an action like this."


Key Facts
Basel-based Syngenta is a world leader in crop protection and ranks third
in the high-value commercial seeds market.
The company reported strong profit growth for 2005 - up 25% to $779
million (SFr1 billion).
Sales were approximately $8.1 billion.
Syngenta employs more than 19,000 people in over 90 countries.

                                 PART II
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TITLE:  Syngenta é multada em R$ 1 milhão por plantar transgênico no
entorno do parque do Iguaçu
SOURCE: IBAMA, Brazil, by Sandra Sato
DATE:   21 Mar 2006

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Syngenta é multada em R$ 1 milhão por plantar transgênico no entorno do
parque do Iguaçu

Curitiba (21/03/06) - O Ibama multou hoje em R$ 1 milhão a multinacional
Syngenta Seeds pelo plantio de milho geneticamente modificado no entorno
do Parque Nacional do Iguaçu (PR). Segundo o superintendente do instituto
no Paraná, Marino Gonçalves, a empresa afrontou a Lei de Biossegurança,
que proíbe testes com transgênicos em zona de amortecimento de unidades
de conservação.

O experimento da Syngenta localizava-se a seis quilômetros de distância
do parque. A empresa recebeu a notificação da multa na tarde de hoje.
Além de autuar a multinacional, o Ibama entrou com ação na Justiça
pedindo autorização para destruir o plantio transgênico.

A multa é resultado da operação Parque Livre deflagrada pelo Ibama,
depois de receber denúncia da ONG Terra de Direitos contra 18 fazendas.
Os fiscais foram a campo e confirmaram plantações de sementes
geneticamente modificadas em 13 áreas, uma da Syngenta e as outras de
proprietários rurais. Eles também seráo multados.

Antes de aplicar a penalidade, Marino analisou a defesa apresentada pela
empresa após o embargo das atividades. A Syngenta alegou possuir
autorização da Comissão Técnica Nacional de Biossegurança (CTNBio) para
desenvolver o experimento. "Não estou multando a Syngenta por falta de
licenciamento, mas tão somente pela localização do empreendimento a menos
de 10 quilômetros do parque", rebate Marino.

O superintende considerou a infração gravíssima. Nestas situações a Lei
de Crimes Ambientais permite aplicação de multa entre R$ 501 mil a R$ 1,5
milhão. Na definição do valor, Marino avaliou que o parque é um espaço de
proteção das cataratas do Iguaçu e é uma das últimas áreas da mata
atlântica que serve de habitats para grandes felinos.

                                 PART III
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TITLE:  Greenpeace Reaction to Syngenta fine
SOURCE: Greenpeace
DATE:   23 Mar 2006

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Greenpeace Reaction to Syngenta fine

Geneva, Wednesday, March 23, 2006--Greenpeace today welcomed the decision
of the Brazilian Environment Protection Agency IBAMA to fine Swiss Agro-
Biotech multinational Syngenta one million reais (386 000 euros) for
conducting illegal field trials of GE soy in a buffer zone around the
Iguacu Falls World Heritage Site. The organisation is confident that a
judicial order for the destruction of the genetically engineered plants
will also be issued in due time. IBAMA' s decision was announced today at
the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) taking place in Curitiba,

"This decision sounds a clear warning to agro-biotech firms intent on
putting economic interests ahead of biosafety and enforces respect for
biodiversity and protected areas," said Greenpeace International's Doreen
Stabinsky from the field site. " The announcement is right on the mark
and makes a mockery of Syngenta's denial last week that it had acted
illegally. It confirms the legitimacy and necessity of the occupation of
the field by local peasants."

National law in Brazil expressly prohibits the planting of GMOs in
conservation areas as well as buffer zones around those areas, based on
the precautionary principle. Syngenta's GE soy field trials were found
six kilometres from the park, however national law requires a buffer zone
of at least ten kilometres.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which uses non-
violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems,
and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.

                                 PART IV
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TITLE:  Syngenta Appeals Brazil Fine, Farm Still Occupied
SOURCE: Reuters, by Andrei Khalip
DATE:   23 Mar 2006

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Syngenta Appeals Brazil Fine, Farm Still Occupied

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Syngenta Seeds said on Wednesday it has appealed
a fine of 1 million reais (US$462,000) set by Brazil's environmental
agency for planting genetically modified crops too close to a national park.

A spokesman for the unit of Switzerland's Syngenta AG also said the
company expected hundreds of farmers occupying its farm next to the
Iguacu park since last week to leave Wednesday as a court order demands.

On Tuesday, the government's Ibama environmental agency fined Syngenta
for having about 30 acres (12 hectares) of transgenic soy plantings in
the parks' so-called "amortization zone." The plantings were about 4
miles (6 km) from the park, while the allowed distance is 6 miles (10 km).

Ibama also requested court permission to destroy the plantings in the
forbidden area.

"Syngenta is already appealing against Ibama's decision. Consultations
with lawyers showed that the definition of contention area around the
park is not fixed, while Syngenta followed all the legal process
correctly," the spokesman said.

The company has denied any illegal tests, saying it follows all
regulations of the National Technical Commission for Biosecurity
(CTNBio), which oversees GMO issues.

Some 600 activists from La Via Campesina (Peasant Way), an international
group allied with Brazil's militant Landless Peasants' Movement, occupied
Syngenta's Santa Teresa do Oeste farm in the southern Parana state to
"denounce the illegal activity of experimenting with transgenic seeds in
the area."

The act, which started eight days ago, coinicides with an international
meeting on biodiversity this week in the same state. The meeting is
discussing GMO biosecurity among other issues.

Syngenta last week obtained a court order giving the peasants five days
to leave the farm.

"Today's the last day. The company expects a peaceful outcome with the
justice's order being fulfilled," the spokesman said, adding that
Syngenta employees had been barred from working at the farm, abandoning

"A lot of the research there is with conventional materials, a fruit of
20 years of work," he said.

MST says the activists will not leave the farm as they want the
authorities to confiscate it from Syngenta. Police, who normally have to
intervene to fulfill court rulings in such cases, said they had not yet
received any orders.

Land invasions are common in Brazil, mainly to demand that the government
speed up the distribution of public land for settlement of poor peasants.

Earlier this month, activists in Rio Grande do Sul state ransacked a tree
nursery of Brazilian pulp and paper company Aracruz, destroying part of a
research lab.

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
news & information

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