Brazil Gets Its Transgenic Law

    Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on January 12, sanctioned the Provisional Measure that determines norms for the cultivation and sale of genetically modified soybeans.

    The law, which was published yesterday, January 13, in the Federal Register (Diário Oficial), requires producers to sign a declaration of commitment, responsibility, and adjustment of behavior by January 31, 2005.


    In accordance with the law, producers who fail to sign the declaration will be prevented from obtaining loans and other forms of financial assistance from institutions that belong to the National System of Rural Credit, as well as being denied access to eventual fiscal benefits.


    The law also requires companies that produce seeds to present receipts in order to be able to charge royalties (patent use rights) from producers for the development of technology.


    Controversy


    The consumption of transgenic foods can lead to the development of new diseases in mankind. This warning comes from the Brazilian theologian and philosopher, Leonardo Boff, who recently talked about the subject.


    According to Boff, “we don’t know what the consequences are; the most serious countries don’t want anything to do with transgenics: This is true of China, which, with its ancient wisdom, is rejecting them.”


    Defender of human rights and winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize in Stockholm, in 2001, for his work in this area, Boff, author of 60 books, including “Ecology, Cry of the Poor,” recalled that science is still not sure how new bacteria arising together with transgenics combine with bacteria colonies already present in human organisms.


    “The State must be ethical: If something is uncertain, it shouldn’t be used, even if this irritates businessmen or farmers. This is the principle of responsibility,” Boff proposed.


    The writer observed that if changes in the climate are already causing disasters, such as the cyclone Catarina that hit Brazil at the end of March, global heating accompanied by a shortage of drinking water can be expected to cause incalculable harm, in a very short period of time.


    Brazil possesses 13% of the planet’s entire stock of fresh water and wastes 46% of what it uses. “Sufficient water to supply all of France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and northern Italy,” Boff emphasized.


    In the writer’s opinion, the global ecological problem will only be resolved when social injustices are rectified.


    “There are currently a billion people who go thirsty and two billion who lack treated water. For this reason the World Health Organization (WHO) says that nearly 80% of the diseases that currently affect the population in poor countries are due to the use of contaminated water. In Brazil two-thirds of the population does not have treated water,” he points out.


    Agência Brasil

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