SnowBall archive


GE - more news from 19th

1) Brazil state threatens to destroy Monsanto soy
2) Spain makes transgenic crop producers pay into insurance fund

Thursday March 18, 6:30 pm Eastern Time
1) Brazil state threatens to destroy Monsanto soy
By Phil Stewart
SAO PAULO, March 18 (Reuters) - Brazil's major soybean producing 
state of Rio Grande do Sul is threatening to destroy genetically-modified 
soybeans grown on a test plot by the local unit of U.S. biotechnology giant 
Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MTC - news).
``The soybean area will be destroyed by the end of the month if they 
continue in violation of state law,'' the state's 
Agriculture Secretary Jose Hermeto Hoffamann told Reuters.
Rio Grande do Sul, which aims to sell soybeans to European consumers 
opposed to transgenics, accused the 
multinational of breaking a new, March 3 state law by failing to provide an 
environmental risk analysis for the 
435-hectare test plot.
Hoffamann said Monsanto was reproducing enough seeds on the land to cover 
all of Rio Grande do Sul sales in 
anticipation of the federal government's expected final approval for 
planting of Monsanto's herbicide-resistant Roundup 
Ready soybeans in the coming months.
Securing the environmental analysis before the end-March deadline may not 
be possible, he added.
``It will be very difficult for (Monsanto) to gather this information in 
time because it take some time to collect this kind 
of data,'' Hoffamann said.
Monsanto says it aims to complete the paperwork, but failing that, it will 
take legal measures to protect its seeds.
``We will attempt to present the documents,'' said Rodrigo Lopes Almeida, 
Monsanto do Brasil's corporate affairs 
director. ``Monsanto will defend itself within the parameters of the law.''
Rio Grande do Sul is expected to turn out 22 percent of the country's 
30.92-million-tonne crop -- the world's largest 
behind the United States.
Brazil broke its ban on transgenics last September by approving the safety 
of Monsanto's 
genetically-modifiedsoybeans, legally allowing them to be treated like any 
other crop in the registration process.
Hoffamann said in an earlier interview that the state was seeking legal 
means to ban all transgenic crops before their 
registration. He added that the German joint venture AgrEvo had also been 
warned about the new state law and its 
effect on the company's test plots of transgenic corn and rice.
``They have also been told they must provide these documents,'' Hoffamann
Andre Abreu, who head's AgrEvo's biotechnology program in Brazil, said that 
it would be very difficult to provide an 
environmental risk analysis before the deadline. He also scoffed at the 
controversy over the test plots, which he said 
totaled less than two hectares and already had federal approval.
``All this fuss over nothing,'' Abreu said, adding the company had already 
waded through a four-month assessment 
with the federal government just to begin its research in Brazil.
``We think we have rights to keep (the plots) going and to conclude this 
research and to have fair time to comply with 
these demands,'' he told Reuters.
AgrEvo is an agrochemical joint venture between Germany's Hoechst AG (quote 
from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: HOEG.F) 
and Schering AG (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: SCHG.F).
2) Spain makes transgenic crop producers pay into insurance fund
[BARCELONA] by Xavier Bosch
The Spanish government has decided that companies that produce or plant 
genetically modified crops must contribute to a 90 million Euro (US$100 
million) insurance fund intended to cover environmental accidents. The move 
reflects growing calls for tougher restrictions on such crops from 
opposition political parties, non-governmental organizations, and 
consumers' associations.
As a result of this pressure, the government's approach to transgenic crops 
will be debated in parliament this week after two left-wing parties 
expressed concern that Spain has authorized the planting of genetically 
modified crops that have not yet been approved in other countries of the 
European Community.
Environmental issues have become more controversial in Spain since last 
year's ecological disaster, when thousands of tons of toxic waste spilled 
into the Dońana national park last April after a retaining wall collapsed 
at the Aznalcóllar mines in Seville. One party, the Bloque Nacionalista 
Gallego, is seeking either a moratorium or a strict limit on the import of 
such crops. The movement Ecologists in Action, which includes more than 300 
environment-related organizations, has called for a ban on the 22 
experimental field trials by the company Monsanto that have already been 
approved by the country's biosafety commission.
Concern has been triggered by the high importation of modified crops, 
especially maize and soya. Between 15,000 and 20,000 hectares are said to 
have already been planted with such maize from the company Novartis. The 
number of licences for test plantings has increased from 36 in 1996 to 124 
by January of this year.
Transgenic foodstuffs became an issue in Spain in 1996, when seven 
Greenpeace activists held a protest in Barcelona against a boat containing 
45,000 tons of soya, 2 per cent of which was genetically modified. Cristina 
Narbona, the environment-commission spokesperson of the socialist party 
PSOE, has urged the government to support demands being made at the 
biodiversity protocol meeting in Colombia to base the protocol on the 
so-called "precautionary principle".