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Argentine farmers sue to stop Bt corn

(Nov. 15, 2001 -- CropChoice news) -- An organization representing 300 organic farmers in Argentina is attempting to sue the government of that country to stop its support of the planting of Bt corn, which is genetically modified to express the natural insecticidal bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis.

The Argentine Movement for Organic Production last week filed a complaint in court against the Agriculture Department. In addition to a cessation of all approvals for the use of Bt corn and a suspension of all past authorizations, the farmer organization wants the government to ban the use and sale of transgenic corn seeds.

The president of the organization, Rodolfo Tarraubella, told Reuters: "We are asking that approvals of transgenic corn be stopped forever. I expect a response from the judge within 30 days."

The growers argue that genetic contamination of their organic corn from transgenic varieties, which international standards disallow, is causing them economic harm. Normally, organic products fetch a premium, but if they've got foreign genes, then that premium goes away.

Organic farming has grown steadily in Argentina, where about 1,700 organic farmers, up from 220 six years ago, grow the crops, mostly for export to the United States and the European Union. The number of hectares devoted to organic crops has increased from 5,000 in 1993 to 3 million this year.

Source: Reuters