BRAZIL: court stops GM soya release

Following legal action by Greenpeace, the 6th Federal Court in Brazil ruled this week that Monsanto must conduct a full environmental impact assessment before it can commercially plant its 'Roundup Ready' genetically modified soya in Brazil, the world's second largest soya producer.

Brazil produces 30 Mio tons of soya per year, so far all GE-free. In January 1999, the governor of the southern state Rio Grande do Sul announced that his state would stay a GE-free zone.

According to the judicial decision, Monsanto is prohibited to commercialise the GM seeds until the Brazilian Government has regulated and defined the rules of biosafety and labelling of GMOs. It has also suspended the commercial planting of ‘Roundup Ready’ soya until the technical doubts presented by respected researchers regarding possible faults of the CTN-Bio (National Technical Commission on Biosafety) have been clarified.

Brazilian Ministers of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Environment and Health have been instructed not to give any new authorisation for commercialisation of GM crops to Monsanto until the judicial determinations have been accomplished. The judge also suspended all previous authorisations.

Greenpeace UK campaign director, Dr Doug Parr, said: “Monsanto is meeting resistance everywhere it goes in the world. Consumers, farmers, environmentalists and now even the law is resisting the great genetic experiment. Brazil will now enter the next Millennium GM free and is setting a world-wide precedent for the necessity of an environmental impact assessment of the GM crops.”

In response to the court ruling, Monsanto said “The Brazilian government, including key Ministers and the President himself, has issued strong statements supportive of the benefits of biotechnology that emphasize its critical value for Brazilian farmers and the Brazilian agricultural industry overall.
“We are reviewing a June 21 court ruling regarding the government’s approval process. Based on the information we have, we remain confident that we will meet the 1999-2000 commercial launch timetable for Roundup Ready soybeans in Brazil.

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