U.S. takes battle over GM crops to Brazil

By Raymond Colitt, Financial Times

Friday, June 20, 2003 -- CropChoice news, 06/19/03 via Agenet: Rebuffed in attempts to sell genetically modified products to Europe, the US government and the American biotech industry are, according to this story, focusing on Brazil, one of the world's leading agricultural producers.

The story says that Washington this week is helping pay for a group of 20 Brazilian politicians, scientists and environmentalists to study the use of GM crops in the US and South Africa.

The study trip includes dinner with executives of Monsanto, the US bio-technology giant. Brazil's agricultural seed industry is also contributing to the tour cost.

The study comes as Brazil's government drafts legislation that could determine the future of GM crops there. With an estimated harvest of 115m tonnes of grains and billions of dollars in annual seed and pesticide sales, much is at stake.

Critics say the US government has been overtly promoting GM crops in developing countries after it challenged European Union restrictions on biotechnology in the World Trade Organisation last month.

Mariana Paoli, with Greenpeace in São Paolo, was quoted as saying, "This is blatant lobbying by Monsanto through the US government."

The US embassy in Brasília says the objective of the trip is simply to provide the delegation with information on the issue.