Biotechnology, Blessing and Curse for Poor Countries Like Brazil

    Brazil and other developing countries pondering whether or how much to use genetically modified agricultural crops must balance many different concerns.

    They range from battling domestic starvation and malnutrition and ensuring health and safety, to preserving the environment, fulfilling multilateral trade obligations and protecting and enhancing trade opportunities, a recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) study says.


    The study, entitled International Trade in GMOs and GM Products:  National and Multilateral Legal Frameworks reports that genetically modified crops pose especially difficult choices for the world’s poorer nations.


    Worldwide agricultural area given over to genetically modified crops has grown 47-fold since 1996, but the use of such crops by developing nations has been limited. 


    The United States accounted for 59% of the 81 million hectares employed for GM agriculture in 2004. 


    Only 16 other countries grew genetically modified crops, led by Argentina (20% of total area), Canada and Brazil (6% each), China (5%), Paraguay (2%), and India and South Africa (1% each).


    Agro-biotechnology, or farming based on genetically modified organisms (GMOs ), may allow higher yields, improve profits for farmers, ease domestic food shortages and facilitate the production of new quality products. 


    But at the same time, it involves technology that might be inadequate for the needs of developing countries and that could disrupt traditional agricultural practices, limit access to seeds, pose unpredictable environmental and health problems, have a negative impact on biodiversity and raise ethical or religious concerns.


    An additional worry is that international trade flows may be jeopardized, the report states.  While economically advanced nations set policy on GMOs based largely on domestic concerns and attitudes, developing countries often depend heavily on agricultural exports and may feel constrained to bend domestic priorities in order to meet the demands and expectations of their main trading partners.


    To preserve their export opportunities – especially with European markets, where consumers have expressed scepticism about bioengineered products – some developing nations are inclined to preserve their “GM-free” status, UNCTAD observes. 


    This implies not only that they do not export GMOs but that they neither use them for domestic consumption nor import them. 


    In this way, they can avoid a possibly negative reaction among consumers, especially in Europe, to exports that can be even remotely linked to genetic modification. 


    Firms in some importing countries thus appear to be replacing genetically modifiable products with products that have no such risk, and shifting more of their trading business to countries known to be “GM-free”.


    Mainly because of possible trade losses, a number of African countries – including Angola, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe – have imposed import bans on genetically-modified products, although in some cases these bans allow exceptions for food aid, provided that the cereals concerned have already been milled.


    The report also points to legal complications:  While countries are free to decide how to deal domestically with the issue of genetically modified crops, domestic regulations have to comply with the rules of the World Trade Organization. 


    At the same time, agro-biotechnology is a field where multilateral rules have been agreed upon in a separate legal instrument, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.  The interaction between this specific instrument and the WTO rules adds challenges to an already complex scenario.


    UNCTAD – United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
    www.unctad.org


    i-Newswire

    Tags:

    • Show Comments (1)

    • Guest

      charlotte
      this site was very interesting and very useful for my school home work thank you

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    comment *

    • name *

    • email *

    • website *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Ads

    You May Also Like

    Military Decline

    Electoral competition and the incentives it unleashes form a key source of the dynamism ...

    Brazilian library

    Brazilians Are Put Under the Microscope and Most of Findings Are Good

    People don’t live in countries or states – they live in cities. Ultimately, it’s ...

    US Analyst Forecasts Doom for Brazil’s Economy

    Economic growth in Brazil will fall toward two percent in 2005 says Jeph Gundzik, ...

    Santos port in São Paulo, Brazil

    Brazil Trade Balance Surplus Falls 64%

    The trade balance surplus (exports minus imports) in April was US$ 1.744 billion, according ...

    Underground Brazil

    The big cities keep getting bigger. To survive, millions have been operating a prosperous ...

    Silicon Valley South

    Belo Horizonte entrepreneurs are part of a movement to wean Brazil’s computers from dependence ...

    Brazil Wants to Get Credits for Keeping Forests Intact

    On Friday, March 24, the fifth day of the 8th Conference of the Parties ...

    Brazil Surplus Reaches US$ 29 Billion for the Year

    Last week, Brazil exported US$ 2.931 billion and imported US$ 2.193 billion, which resulted ...

    Brazilian Companies Shed Debt and Get Ready to Invest

    The great Brazilian factories will face a favorable situation to invest more in 2005 ...

    Argentina’s 7.6% Growth Pushes LatAm Up, Despite Brazil’s 4% Increase

    Latinamerica and the Caribbean region economies are forecasted to expand 5% in 2006, up ...