GENET archive


Plant: Colombia approves GM corn

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: SciDev.Net, UK

AUTHOR: Lisbeth Fog


DATE:   07.03.2007

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[BOGOTÁ] Colombia has allowed genetically modified (GM) corn to enter its borders for the first time, and will authorise plantations of other GM products later in the year.

The Colombian Institute of Agriculture (ICA) approved one hundred kilograms of GM corn for import last month, half of which is resistant to a herbicide and the other half to insects.

Andrés F. Arias, from the Ministry of Agriculture, says growers from four regions of Colombia — Córdoba, Huila, Sucre and Tolima — will be allowed to buy the seeds.

Ana Luisa Diaz, of ICA, told SciDev.Net that authorisation has been given only to regions where the Institute has done controlled biosafety assessments.

The ICA will conduct follow-up biosafety studies of the seed from planting until harvest.

At a meeting this week (3 March) Arias also announced approval of semi-commercial plantations of GM cassava, rice, roses, sugarcane and coffee later this year, with commercial approval to be granted in 2008.

But some are concerned about the developments. German Velez, from the non-governmental organisation Grupo Semillas says, ”The biosafety policies and rules in this country are nonsense.”

Velez is concerned that the GM products will cross-pollinate and therefore alter the natural species of these plants. He pointed to a case in México, where he says natural corn has been contaminated by GM corn.

”These technologies have been designed for big agricultural companies and won’t benefit the poor,” he said. However, he acknowledged that studies have not yet determined GM products’ effect on human health.

Arias defended GM products, saying they increase crop production per hectare and therefore boost farmers’ incomes while reducing pressure on natural ecosystems.

Osiris Ocando, from Agro-Bio, a non-profit organisation, applauded the government’s decision. He hoped Colombian farmers could make use of a wide variety of GM corn seeds, as it is ”essential that the Colombian agricultural sector is able to use modern technology to enhance its competitiveness”.

Colombia is one of the 22 countries to have planted GM seeds. Of its cotton plantations, 41 per cent (22.7 hectares) are the GM variety Bt.

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: Bloomberg, USA

AUTHOR: Jack Kaskey & Carlos Caminada


DATE:   06.03.2007

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March 6 (Bloomberg) -- Monsanto Co. and DuPont Co., the world’s leading developers of genetically modified seeds, may win faster approval to sell their products in Brazil under new biotech regulations, analysts said.

Monsanto, the world’s largest biotech crop developer, may get Brazilian approval this year to market seeds engineered to resist the corn borer insect, Citigroup Global Markets analyst P.J. Juvekar said in a report. DuPont and Dow Chemical Co. may win approval for their jointly developed version of the insect- killing corn seed next year, he said.

While Brazil allows farmers to plant modified soybeans, it hasn’t approved corn engineered to resist bugs and weed killers. Brazil’s Senate on Feb. 27 passed a bill allowing the National Commission of Technical Biosafety to approve new seeds by a simple majority, instead of the previous two-thirds majority.

”It will no doubt speed things up,” said Alda Lerayer, a researcher at the Biotechnology Information Council, which is funded by Monsanto and other biotechnology companies.

Last year, a new corn seed and a vaccine for pigs were rejected by the 27-member biosafety council even though they garnered support from a simple majority, Lerayer said in a telephone interview from Sao Paulo.

Monsanto rose $1.86, or 3.7 percent, to $52.66 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 20 percent in the past year. DuPont rose 96 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $50.82. The stock has climbed 25 percent in the past 12 months.

Speedier Approval

The speedier approval process may pave the way for Monsanto to gain a larger slice of Brazil’s corn market, Citigroup’s Juvekar said. Monsanto has increased its share of U.S. corn seed sales in each of the past six years, challenging the dominance of DuPont’s Pioneer unit.

Some members of the biosafety council, made up of government officials and scientists, who are openly opposed to gene-altered crops could still stall approvals by delaying votes or seeking court injunctions, Lerayer said.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who last month announced 10 billion reais ($4.7 billion) of investments in biotechnology over the next 10 years, may try to speed up approvals by pressuring government officials to back the crops, Lerayer said.

”The government’s willingness is a key part of the equation,” she said.

Juvekar upgraded his rating on Monsanto shares to ”buy” from ”hold,” citing the potential for faster approvals in Brazil and a likely improvement in Latin American agriculture. He raised his price target to $60 from $52. Juvekar rates DuPont ”buy” and Dow Chemical ”hold.”



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