GENET archive


REGULATION / PLANTS: Brazil delays vote on gene-altered crop amidprotest

                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Brazil delays vote on gene-altered crop amid protest
SOURCE: Bloomberg, USA
AUTHOR: By Carlos Caminada
DATE:   22.03.2007

Brazil delays vote on gene-altered crop amid protest

March 22 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil postponed a vote on whether to approve
Bayer AG's gene-modified corn seeds after Greenpeace International
protesters stormed the meeting.

Members of the environmental group entered the closed-door session held
by the government's biotechnology council and demanded to participate in
the talks, said Gabriele Vuolo, coordinator of Greenpeace's campaign
against gene-altered seeds.

"We believe these sessions must be open to the public because they will
have an impact on people's lives," Vuolo said in a phone interview from
Brasilia. "The transgenic corn will end up on the plates of Brazilians."

Brazil, which allows farmers to plant gene-altered soybeans, hasn't yet
approved corn engineered to resist bugs and weed killers. Monsanto Co.
and DuPont Co., the world's leading developers of genetically modified
seeds, are also pushing to get approval for their products in Latin
America's biggest economy.

The South American country is the world's second-biggest soy producer
and third-biggest corn grower.

Vera Canfran, the biotechnology council's spokeswoman, confirmed that
the meeting was interrupted by protesters and said the vote will be
postponed until April 18.

"It made no sense for them to be there," Canfran said in a telephone
interview from Brasilia. "They were there to create turmoil."

Biotech Crops

Brazil is home to a 10th of the world's genetically modified crops.
Planting of biotech crops in the country, including herbicide-tolerant
soybeans, jumped 22 percent last year to 11.5 million hectares, the non-
profit International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech
Applications said in January.

Bayer's LibertyLink corn seed, already used by farmers in the U.S.,
Argentina and other countries, may help Brazilian growers boost yields
because it produces plants that resist strong herbicides also made by
the German company, said Andre Abreu, biotechnology manager at Bayer's
crop science division in Brazil.

"We expect the seed to boost productivity in Brazil," Abreu said in a
telephone interview from Sao Paulo. "It contains a protein that
nullifies any effect of the herbicides on the corn plant."

Abreu declined to comment on the incident in Brasilia today. Bayer is
Germany's biggest drugmaker.

Approval Delays

Delays in approval of seeds and other research may thwart President Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva's plan to invest 10 billion reais ($4.9 billion) in
biotechnology over the next decade to fuel growth in agriculture and
other industries, said Alda Lerayer of the University of Sao Paulo.

Repeated protests and court injunctions have prevented the country from
ruling on biotechnology developments and will likely discourage
investments, she said.

"Companies and researchers will not run the risk of investing money and
time when the rules don't work," said Lerayer, a biotechnology professor
at the university. "This is bad for the country."

Brazil's Senate on Feb. 27 passed a bill allowing the biotechnology
council to approve new seeds by a simple majority, instead of the
previous two-thirds majority, in a bid to speed up rulings.

-------------------- archived at --------------------

                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Brazil's Lula allows genetically modified imports
SOURCE: France24 News, France
AUTHOR: Agence France Press
DATE:   23.03.2007

Brazil's Lula allows genetically modified imports

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva eased rules on importing
genetically modified agricultural organisms, the official news agency said.

The presidential green light given late Wednesday could most immediately
benefit Germany's Bayer, which has sought approval for a variety of
genetically modified corn.

It came after a bare majority of the 27 members of the National
Technical Biosecurity Commission gave their backing for the
commercialization of just one transgenic crop.

But at the same time Lula vetoed the commercialization of genetically
modified cotton, which has already been planted illicitly in 2006 on
some 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) in Brazil.

Despite political opposition, transgenic soybeans were provisionally
approved in Brazil in 2004 and approval has been renewed annually. The
government relinquished oversight after many farmers were found to have
been planting genetically modified crops in southern Brazil.

About 10 genetically modified crops from Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and
Dow Agroscience, mainly corn varieties, have been awaiting approval from
the biosecurity commission.

The International Biotechnology Agricultural Purchasing and Application
Service (ISAAA) says modified cotton and soybean crops cover 11.4
million hectares (28 million acres) of Brazil in 2006, a rise of 2.1
million hectares (5.0 million acres).

-------------------- archived at --------------------


the news & information service of the
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

phone....... +49-531-5168746
fax......... +49-531-5168747
email....... hartmut.meyer(*)
skype....... hartmut_meyer