Brazil and Argentina: Genetically Modified Corn Introduced with all the Force of the Law
|The majority of the new corn|
seeds coming into Brazil
are genetically modified.
CARMELO RUIZ-MARRERO, CIP Americas Policy Program
Fifty-six percent of the new corn seeds that are coming into Brazil are genetically modified, according to that country's Department of Consulting and Services to Projects in Alternative Agriculture (LAS-PTA, initials in Portuguese). Gabriel Fernandes, a LAS-PTA Technical Adviser, is worried that seed companies will now force the replacement of conventional corn with genetically modified, denying farmers the right to choose. The planting of genetically modified corn in Brazil was authorized by the National Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) in 2008.
"The most striking information is that, as there is a very large concentration in the seed market, with four, five companies in control of the industry, what we believe is that before long these companies will force non-genetically modified varieties out of the market. And they will leave only the genetically modified kind," says Fernandes.
He adds that there may be problems with the European markets, as there is great opposition to GM foods among consumers there. Furthermore, genetically modified agricultural products entering Europe have to be labeled by law.
Fernandes is particularly concerned about the problem of uncontrolled proliferation of genetically modified corn, which will surely be more serious than in the case of genetically modified soybeans, because corn reproduces through open pollination. "The big problem now is the contamination that will occur. That corn, when planted, will spread either by pollen, or the mixture of grains, and will contaminate any non-genetically modified corn. The great challenge today is to determine how it will be possible to maintain conventional farming or agroecology without pollution," says Fernandes.
Moreover, the Rebelión.org news web page reported that Argentina recently completed the final steps for approving the cultivation of genetically modified corn. Lorenzo Basso, secretary of Agriculture and, until recently dean of the School of Agriculture at the University of Buenos Aires, and Antonio Aracre, head of Syngenta's seeds division for Latin America, attended the administrative ceremony. From the Swiss city of Basel, where the headquarters of Syngenta are located, the chief of the grains division, Davos Pirk announced "he was pleased by the decision."