22 January 2003 17:44 [Source: ICIS news]
SAO PAULO (CNI)--Brazilian soy farmers have planted 3m hectares of genetically modified (GM) soy for harvest this year, despite legal restrictions against GM product in Brazil, a spokesperson for Monsanto said Wednesday.
Despite the large amount of GM soy planted in the country, Monsanto is still waiting for two judges to decide if the Technical Commission on National Biosecurity (CNTBio), which approved the sale of GM seeds in 1998, has the authority to judge whether GM seeds can be sold in Brazil.
Most of the GM soy planted in Brazil comes from seeds purchased in neighbouring Argentina, the world's second largest consumer of GM seeds.
Luiz Abramides, Monsanto's director for biotechnology regulation said that lack of a coherent regulatory policy in Brazil has slowed the sales of GM products and that the timetable for approval of the sale of GM products is still uncertain.
Last year, a federal judge ruled that CNTBio has jurisdiction to approve GM seeds, but the case still needs approval from two more federal judges.
Analysts have speculated that the recent increase in corn prices and the government's hunger elimination program could speed the approval of GM products, which is seen as inevitable in Brazil.
Likewise, the Brazilian seed producers association (Abrasem) has expressed concern regarding the quantity of contraband GM seeds and has urged the government to take a stand regarding the future of GM products.
Despite the prohibition on the sale of GM seeds, which represent roughly 50% of Monsanto's sales worldwide, the company's sales in Brazil grew by 20% in 2002 to $600m (Euro560m).
Monsanto's Brazil headquarters are located in São Paulo and its world headquarters are in St Louis Missouri.
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