March 4, 2004



Brazil Set To End Monsanto's GMO Soy Monopoly


Brazil are ready to end Monsanto's GMO monopoly in the country after developing a new genetically modified soybean, scientists said on Wednesday.


The country's crop research agency Embrapa have come up with a new GMO soybean similar to Monsanto's Roundup Ready Soybeans, which is the only GMO soybean allowed in Brazil.

"This could help improve public opinion about transgenic soy in Brazil because many people say that we should not legalize GMO soy because Monsanto would have a monopoly," said Joao Veloso Silva, assistant head of research at Embrapa.

Brazil banned GMO food and crops until early 2003 when the government granted amnesty to producers illegally planting GMO soy acquired on a widespread black market.

Illegal GMO soy has been reproduced on the local market clandestinely but was originally smuggled into Brazil from Argentina and Paraguay where Roundup Ready soy is widely planted.

Embrapa's new GMO soy is resistant to Imidazolinone-based herbicides, which would kill other soybeans that have not had a certain enzyme altered genetically.

Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy has been genetically altered in a similar way to resist herbicides of the Glyphosate family.

"The new soy has been adapted to various types of Brazilian soy and has performed very well in early tests," Carlos Arias, genetic researcher at Embrapa, said on the sidelines of the World Soybean Research Conference.

"This will give the market options but the price of Imidazolinone is still costly, at least twice as expensive as Glyphosate," Arias added.

Silva said Imidazolinone herbicides had already been approved for commercial use in Brazil but the new GMO soy was still in the lengthy approval phase for public use.

"The research demands are strict and there is no date projected for approval for commercial use yet," said Silva.

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