SAO PAULO, Brazil,
August 12, 2003 -- CropChoice news: A federal judge
Tuesday lifted a ban preventing U.S. agricultural giant
Monsanto Co. from selling genetically modified soybean
seeds in Brazil.
Monsanto welcomed the ruling by Judge Selene Maria
de Almeida, but the company's victory could be short-lived.
Two other judges who serve on her appeals panel could
reverse the decision, effectively putting back in place
the ban approved in 2000.
Monsanto wants the seeds legalized to recoup lost profits
from widespread illicit use in Brazil of its Roundup
Ready soybean seeds.
Brazilian growers use seeds smuggled into Brazil from
neighboring countries, then grow more on their own land.
The Brazilian government rarely enforces the law, and
experts estimate 17 percent of the country's soybean
crop are grown from the seeds.
Brazil harvested about 52 million metric tons of soybeans
during the 2002-2003 season, making it the second largest
producer after the United States.
The judge agreed with Monsanto's position that there
are no legal or scientific reasons to ban genetically
modified seeds, and that Brazil's robust agricultural
industry could suffer if growers are not allowed to
use the seeds.
Environmentalists, including Greenpeace, oppose the
use of genetically modified seeds because of suspicions
they could harm the environment.
Monsanto in June warned about 250 exporters that buy
Brazilian soybeans and 150 importers that the company
would soon start monitoring exports of crops grown with
the illicit seeds.
The move came as the struggling St. Louis-based company
is shifting its business focus from manufacturing herbicides
to developing and selling genetically engineered seeds
around the world.
It has complained bitterly for years about Brazilian
farmers using Monsanto's technology without paying for
it. Monsanto has also been lobbying the Brazilian government
to legalize genetically engineered crops.
Monsanto shares rose 40 cents Tuesday to close at $21.89
on the New York Stock Exchange.