Brazil states offer own not-so-GM-friendly readings of lifted moratorium

SAO PAULO, Brazil, Oct. 30, 2003 -- CropChoice news -- Reuters: Brazil's Parana state found around 3,000 tonnes of genetically modified soy stored in a private warehouse at Paranagua port, following tests on Tuesday, the state's official news agency said on Wednesday.

The port's grain warehouses are being examined after the state government on Monday banned GM soy and Paranagua, Brazil's main soy port in Parana state, suspended soybean shipments for four to five days while the grain was tested.

In a statement published by the Agencia Estadual de Noticias news agency, the state government said that the GM soy was partly Brazilian and partly Paraguayan.

It said that the warehouse was managed by U.S. agribusiness company Archer Daniels Midland Co.

ADM declined comment, saying it hadn't been officially notified.

"We don't allow multinationals to mix soy and export it through ports in Parana state," said Eduardo Requiao, the port's general director, referring to the possible mixing of transgenic and conventional soy.

The port authority said it will try to define the precise origin of the soy and negotiate with its owners the removal of the transgenic stocks.

Parana state government's action could cause a diplomatic dispute with Paraguay because Paranagua port is federally owned and managed by the state under a concessionary agreement.

"Paraguay is an important partner in Mercosur and well respected by our government, but we must handle the matter seriously," Requiao was quoted by the agency as saying.

Requiao was referring to the South American free trade bloc of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

"We can't allow that the warehouse which was given to the country (Paraguay) under a bilateral deal be handed to a third party multinational which seems to be contaminating our production," he added.

Meanwhile...

Brazil top soy state tells growers GM soy illegal

SAO PAULO, Brazil, Oct 28 (Reuters): Brazil's No. 1 soy grower state, Mato Grosso, said on Tuesday it would tell its producers that planting genetically modified soybeans in the state was illegal, despite a nationwide decree legalizing GM soy planting and sales.

Mato Grosso Governor Blairo Maggi, who is the biggest individual soybean grower in the world, said the government decree published in September legalized GM soybean planting for those producers who already had GM seeds in stock and who registered them as GM with the government.

"This is not the case for any producer in Mato Grosso," said Maggi according to his spokeswoman. "Because of this, the planting (of GM) is banned in the state."

Producers in No. 3 soy state Rio Grande do Sul have planted GM soy widely for several years, despite the ban on biotech seeds in Brazil before this year. Other states are believed to have planted GM soy, although less than Rio Grande do Sul.

Maggi said center-west states such as Mato Grosso have never planted GM soy. Nonetheless, some soy producers seem determined to try to go GM in the center-west.

Since the beginning of October, agents from the Agriculture Ministry working at Mato Grosso's highway patrol checkpoints have apprehended over 107 tonnes of GM soybeans from Rio Grande do Sul in the municipalities of Canarana and Primavera.

Maggi said Mato Grosso's Food Safety Institute (Indea) is prepared to seize illegal GM soy.

Mato Grosso's agriculture secretariat said the seized GM soybeans would be sufficient to plant 2,700 hectares (6,670 acres).

The government decree that legalizes GM soy planting and sales for consumption forbids the transport of GM soy as seed from state to state or its sales as seed.

As Brazil's top soy producer, Mato Grosso should harvest 15 million tonnes from the new crop now being planted.