February 12, 2014

Argentina protests against Monsanto's corn project on environmental concerns


Following authorities' rejection of Monsanto's environmental-impact assessment, Monsanto Co. hit another roadblock in its plans to build an ARS1.5 billion (US$192 million) corn-seed production plant in Argentina's Cordoba province, according to a Wall Street Journal report.


Monsanto announced the investment in 2012 but hit resistance from local activists. The new plant in the Malvinas district on the outskirts of the provincial capital would have the capacity to produce 3.5 million bags of corn seed a year--the largest of its kind in the world, according to the company. Monsanto already has a similar corn-seed plant in the Rojas area in Argentina's Buenos Aires province.


The project has been on hold since September after clashes with protesters led the St. Louis biotech company to halt construction after completing about 30% of the work. The company said it accepted the findings and would move to bring the project in line with the new requirements.

The office of Cordoba Governor José Manuel de la Sota said in a statement that Monsanto's environmental assessment didn't "identify the relevant impacts and resulting mitigation measures".


Monsanto "is starting from scratch with the whole process, and preparing a new environmental assessment with new standards," Pablo Vaquero, Monsanto's director of sustainability and corporate affairs for Latin America South, said in an interview. It will take a month or two to analyse the air, soil and water at the site and prepare a new assessment, Vaquero said.


Argentina is one of the world's top users of genetically modified (GM) seeds for crops such as soy and corn. The farming powerhouse is the world's third-largest soy and corn exporter behind the US and Brazil.



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