Brazil: Lula Between Greens and Farmers on GMC

    Movements grounded in civil society raised their voices last week against the possibility of a new provisional executive decree (Medida Provisória – MP) authorizing the cultivation and commercialization of transgenic products in Brazil.

    Last September 22, members of Greenpeace held a protest demonstration in front of the Planalto Palace, in Brasí­lia, to deter publication of the measure.


    Brazilian groups belonging to social movements also sent a letter last week to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva criticizing the authorizing of genetically modified crops, also known as GMC, without any prior study of environmental impact or health risks to consumers.


    In the letter, representatives of 11 groups, including the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) and the Brazilian Consumer Protection Institute (Idec), talked about their frustratijon.


    Publication of the decree, according to them,  would induce “profound frustration with the government [on the part of] individuals in Brazil and abroad who applauded the appointment of Environment Minister Marina Silva as an assurance that the questions of the environment and sustainable development would be taken up by the Brazilian government.”


    In 2003, under the imminent pressure of the start of the planting season, the government issued an MP authorizing the cultivation and commercialization of transgenic soybeans throughout the country.


    Immediately thereafter, in December, it sent the National Congress its proposal for a Biosecurity Law to regulate research on genetically modified organisms. The project was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in February, 2004.


    In the Senate, where the bill awaits a floor vote, amendments were introduced which, according to the social movements, alter the essence of the government’s original proposal.


    The movements demand, for example, that the provision for labeling products containing transgenics be reinstated in the project.


    It is now up to the government to judge what is the best solution for farmers who are awaiting authorization to plant transgenic soybeans in the beginning of October.


    President Lula would be meeting in the coming days, in the Planalto Palace with the Minister of Political Coordination, Aloí­zio Mercadante to decide whether or not to issue an MP authorizing cultivation of the product in the country.


    Translator: David Silberstein

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