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Monsanto to challenge Brazil's GMO ban

(Thursday, Sept. 2, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- Reuters:
BRASILIA, Brazil, Sept 1 - Monsanto Co. said on Wednesday it intends to appeal a legal ban in Brazil on selling its genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans after a court decision cleared the way for an appeal.

A federal court published on Wednesday its decision, made late in June, reinstating the power of Brazil's National Technical Committee on Biosafety (CTNBio) to regulate genetically modified products.

The publication of the decision ends a legal wrangle that started in 1998 when CTNBio waived a five-year environmental impact study and cleared Roundup Ready soy for commercial use. Shortly after that, in 1999, environmental group Greenpeace won a court injunction against the release of Roundup Ready soy on the grounds that CTNBio had acted beyond its powers.

Monsanto said in a statement the federal court's ruling that CTNBio can regulate genetically modified products should mean its original 1998 decision holds. But the court's injunction on Roundup Ready soy remains in place.

"Monsanto intends to launch a legal appeal to correct the contradiction of the maintenance of the injunction that restricts Roundup Ready soy," the company said in a statement in Brazil.

Brazil, the world's No. 2 soy producer after the United States, is the last major agricultural exporter to ban GMO food crops.

While Wednesday's decision helps Monsanto, the tangle of legal decisions regarding genetically modified foods in Brazil could still get more complicated if Greenpeace appeals the decision.

Because of the legal wrangles, the government last year granted amnesty to planters of illegal GMO soybeans for the current crop. It has put together a biosafety bill which would allow GMO planting of the next harvest as well but that is stuck in Congress.

The government has said it could publish a provisional decree to allow planting and sale of genetically modified soybeans in 2004/05 (October/September) if Congress does not approve the law in time.

Despite the attempts by Greenpeace and a consumer group to control Roundup Ready soybeans, it has spread to cover an estimated 30 percent of the national crop.