martes, diciembre 19, 2006

¡Pobre Syngenta!

Major victory for Brazil ’s Landless Peoples Movement—Brazilian Governor Moves to Expropriate Land From Agribusiness Multinational Syngenta

Excerpts from an article by Isabella Kenfield which was published by Znet

On November 9th Roberto Requião, Governor of the state of Paraná, dealt a blow to agribusiness when he signed a decree to expropriate the experimental test site owned by the Swiss multinational corporation Syngenta, located in Santa Tereza do Oeste. The decree was made in the public interest because Syngenta illegally planted 12 hectares of genetically-modified (GM) soybeans at the site. The decree is unprecedented in Brazil and Latin America (indeed, the world), as never before has any state or the federal government moved to expropriate land from an agribusiness multinational corporation.

The decree to expropriate the site came after an eight-month, non-violent occupation of the site by members of the rural social movements the Via Campesina and the Movement of the Landless Rural Workers (MST), which occupied the site on March 14th after the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA), the federal environmental agency, confirmed that Syngenta had illegally planted GM soybeans there.

While GM soy is legal in Brazil , Syngenta's planting was illegal because the experimental site is located within the protective boundary zone of the Iguaçu National Park , which was declared the Patrimony of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1986.

"This is really a historic moment in the global struggle against transgenics, and it is proof that the social movements can control the actions of transnationals," says Maria Rita Reis, an attorney for Terra de Direitos, a human rights organization in Curitiba representing the legal proceedings against Syngenta.

According to Roberto Baggio, state leader of the Via Campesina and the MST, "The conquest of Syngenta was only possible through a large alliance of the rural social movements…in alliance with a firm and courageous position of Governor Requião, in the defense of a diversified, national agriculture that preserves biodiversity. This action is a referential international mark in the struggle against the powerful interests of the agribusiness transnationals that want to dominate global agriculture and impose their project, but here in Paraná there are strong signals of popular resistance, which should stimulate militancy to combat the transnationals all over the planet."

João Pedro Stedile, of the national coordination of the MST says, "Governor Requião had a courageous attitude to fulfill the constitution of the state to protect natural resources… I hope that other state governors and the federal government will follow in [Requião's] example, and help us to defend Brazilian biodiversity, and the struggle for food sovereignty, and against the transnationals that want to control the food and biodiversity throughout the world."

It is likely that Syngenta will appeal the decision in federal courts. Brazil is currently experiencing an economic boom from agricultural production, especially from the production of GM soy. The planting of GM soy was legalized in 2003 under the Lula administration, and the country is now the second largest producer and exporter of soybeans in the world, second only to the U.S. Syngenta, which realized profits of over US $8.1 billion in 2005, wields considerable economic and political power in Brazil , and has a strong interest in maintaining its business in the country.

Requião's move to expropriate the site from Syngenta will, at the very least, send a message to agribusiness multinationals that they can no longer illegally exploit Brazil's natural resources as they wish, and commit crimes with impunity. It will also no doubt bolster the strength and confidence of the social movements. According to state Via Campesina and MST leader Celso Ribeiro, "for the coordination of the Via Campesina this signifies a huge victory and a grand conquest. Syngenta is the 2nd largest producer of seeds in the world, producing both transgenic corn and soy. Now the site will be used as a center for us to create native and creole seed varieties."

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