BRAZIL: Court delays Monsanto’s plans for commercial crops of Roundup Ready soy

A Brazilian federal court judge has ruled that Monsanto must obey the country's constitution and submit GE Roundup Ready soy to a one-year environmental impact study. The crop will not be allowed to be grown on a commercial basis until the independent study has been completed. An American Monsanto spokesperson told edie that the company will appeal the ruling.

“According to the justice, Monsanto will not conduct the test itself,” Mariana Paoli, a genetic engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Brazil, told edie. “Another company or group of researchers and technicians from many different areas will conduct it. Such initiative makes the process much more transparent. The justice has established how the environmental impact study will be made. It is absolutely different from EPA standards.”

The court battle against Monsanto’s plans to plant Roundup Ready soy on a commercial scale was a joint effort by Greenpeace Brazil, IDEC (a Brazilian consumer group) and IBAMA (the Brazilian environmental institute).

Brazil produces the world’s second-largest soybean crop, with only the United States growing more, and Europe is an important export market for the country’s soy farmers. Many farmers are aware of European consumers’ reluctance to consume GE foods.

“Many farmers do prefer to stay GE free as most soy exported from Brazil goes to Europe,” says Paoli. “Others want to try it. We have no clear data, as the issue is quite new.”

Reports suggest that Monsanto, prior to the legal ruling, planned to sell Roundup Ready soy in Brazil by the end of the year and estimated that Roundup Ready soy would account for 50% of Brazil’s soybean crop within three years. However ,the company failed to arrange an independent environmental impact study as required by Brazilian law. “Brazilian law established the need of the environmental study impact to analyse the release of GMOs into the environment. If the company had prepared it before, the legal process against it wouldn’t have happened,” said Paoli.

Monsanto’s respect for and knowledge of Brazilian law is seen by some as inadequate: “According to the regulations of the country, every document presented formally must be in Portuguese for public consulting. However, the company has presented things in English,” said Paoli.

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