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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
Brazil GM move sparks row
By Steve Kingstone
BBC correspondent in Sao Paulo

Ears of corn
Environmentalists described Lula's decision as "absurd"
Brazilian President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva has provoked controversy by approving the temporary planting of genetically modified soya beans.

The measure was announced on Friday and is valid for a year.

Brazil is the world's second biggest producer of soya and the move has pleased farmers.

But environmentalists have called the measure absurd, saying more research is needed into the effects of genetically modified farming.

'Messy compromise'

The Brazilian government hoped that by now the country's parliament would have legalised GM soya.

It hasn't and farmers are ready to begin planting. So for the second year running the president has dealt with the issue by executive order.

It is a messy compromise allowing farmers to grow and sell GM soya, but only until January 2006, and they are not allowed to sell on soya seeds for planting by other farmers.

Admittedly President Lula inherited a difficult situation.

GM soya has been grown here illegally for nearly a decade, most farmers are in favour of it.

Not so environmentalists. Greenpeace says the measure is illegal in the absence of a full, scientific study into GM farming.

The beneficiaries of Mr Lula's decision include the biotechnology giant, Monsanto.

It will now collect royalty payments from Brazilian farmers who use its brand of GM soya.

Brazil GM crop plan challenged
04 Oct 03  |  Americas
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03 Jun 03  |  Americas
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06 Apr 99  |  Food under the microscope

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