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Brazil soy sector sees losses from state blockade

(Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Reuters, 10/28/03: SAO PAULO, Brazil- Brazil's soybean crushers and exporters say they are losing money as a result of Parana state's policy of blocking soy trucks from entering the state without proof that their cargoes are not genetically modified.

The Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oils Industries (Abiove) and the National Association of Cereals Exporters (Anec) sent a written complaint to the president's Chief of Staff, Jose Dirceu, on Friday.

Abiove and Anec said that stopping soy trucks from having free access to Parana's port and privately owned soy-processing facilities was a violation of constitutional rights.

"The arbitrary measure (to stop soy trucks) ... is causing significant losses to Brazil's principal export sector and the country by raising the costs of transportation ..., delaying ships from loading and consequently reducing the price of the product," said the complaint.

Brazil's federal government issued a decree in September temporarily legalizing the sale and planting of genetically modified soybeans nationally, but it left states free to establish GM-free zones.

On Monday, Parana's governor, Roberto Requiao, signed into law a ban on the sale, processing and planting of GM soy in the state, which is Brazil's No. 2 soy grower.

The law also prohibits the use of Brazil's main soy export corridor, Paranagua port, to ship GM soy.

On Monday the port halted all soybean loading for up to five days to conduct tests of Paranagua grain terminals for genetically modified soy. The port said GM soy would be removed and none would be allowed to enter the port in the future.

Over a week ago, the state's border agents began stopping all trucks carrying soybeans, demanding certification that cargoes were GM-free. Virtually no soy trucks had to carry such documentation in Brazil previously.

Parana border agents began testing cargoes last week, turning back trucks that tested positive for GM soy and creating long delays for trucks whose cargoes were cleared.

"The principal passageways in Brazil cannot be subject to restrictions imposed by state governments acting against federal law, which bring losses to rural producers, processors and exporters as well as to consumers," said the complaint filed by Abiove and Anec.

The trade groups said the sale and free transit of soy, even if genetically modified, is guaranteed throughout the country for the new crop according to law 10.688 passed this year.

"Only the sale of genetically modified seeds is not permitted," said the complaint.